ST. LOUIS -- Eddie Guardado's recent slide is a product of some forearm pain.
The muscle discomfort is forcing Guardado to alter his release point. He also can't fully extend his shoulder, causing poor location and a lack of velocity. The left-handed closer has blown his last two save opportunities.
"Every pitch I have thrown, you kind of test it and get here and see which angle won't bother me the most," Guardado said before Tuesday's game against the Cardinals. "I can throw all my pitches, but it is not going to let me get out there and extend. It's not where you want it to be."
Guardado has felt the discomfort in recent outings, including Sunday's appearance against the Phillies. He permitted two unearned runs against the Phillies in the ninth inning, blowing a 5-3 lead.
"Before the game, I would play catch to get my arm going and it wouldn't bother me. It wouldn't bother me in the bullpen and then get out to the field and it starts hurting," he said.
Guardado had been outstanding since the Reds acquired him from the Mariners in mid-July. He permitted just one run in his first 11 appearances, but has allowed four runs -- one earned -- and six hits in his past three outings.
Rest could help Guardado, but with the Reds leading the NL Wild Card and just 1 1/2 games back of the Cardinals in the NL Central, that is unlikely. The pain is also muscle-related and not ligament-related, providing Guardado the opportunity to pitch through the pain.
"I don't have time to rest," he said. "We are monitoring it, and hopefully it will get better. It's on the muscle so that's a good thing. ... No excuses, though. I have to get the job done."
Manager Jerry Narron may try to give Guardado some extra days off. David Weathers (nine saves) and Todd Coffey (seven) are ninth-inning possibilities.
"We have to make sure he is healthy," Narron said of Guardado. "He says he is available every day, but we have to pick some days to go with someone else."
Mercker done: The Reds announced lefty reliever Kent Mercker will undergo season-ending reconstructive surgery on his left elbow Thursday. Mercker, 38, was placed on the disabled list Saturday after throwing a scoreless inning against the Phillies on Friday night.
This will be the fourth time he landed on the disabled list this season, but this operation could signal the end of Mercker's career.
Mercker had pitched well for the Reds, compiling a 1-1 record and 4.13 ERA in 37 games. He also hadn't allowed an earned run in his last 12 outings.
Unlike many lefties, Mercker was far better facing right-handed hitters, permitting just a .259 average and one homer, compared to a .260 mark and five blasts against left-handed pitching.
"He pitched very well against righties," Narron said. "He had a good run there and his experience helped."
will likely step into Mercker's late-inning role.