Kent Mercker in the house

Towards the end of last season when he was injured and retirement was near, someone asked reliever Kent Mercker what his next vocation would be. Without hesistation, he said he’d be “turning vodka into urine.” Everyone around him in the clubhouse laughed.

That was quintessential Mercker, who was one of the smartest and funniest players I’ve encountered in this game.

But he’s found a part-time gig that brings him around the Reds again. Mercker is here at Busch Stadium to make his regular season radio debut working with Marty Brennaman tonight and Thursday. He’s slated to do a handful of games later in the season. I can only imagine he’ll make for entertaining radio during the games. Let me know how he does.

The reason for the change: Chris Welsh returned home for his son’s graduation and Jeff Brantley shifted from the radio booth to TV with George Grande.When Mercker first got here, he didn’t know where to go — so he went to visit a familiar face, Dick Pole, who was by the Reds bullpen — which is usually a no-no for credentialed media.

“I will light him up for that,” Brennaman said. 

A few years ago when the Reds stayed near a decepit mall in St. Louis adjacent to Union Station, the stores were all T-shirt shops and fudge stores. One day Adam Dunn was given a white T-shirt with a photo of Mercker’s smiling mug on it. Above the picture read “World’s Greatest Teammate.”

On to some news…

Willy Taveras is out of the lineup again because of a sore right hamstring. Taveras’ inability to catch up to Nick Stavinoha’s sixth-inning drive to center field let two-runs score on the double, including the go-ahead run in a 5-2 loss. Taveras spent a while in manager Dusty Baker’s office on Wednesday.

“He’s about the same,” Baker said. “I had a long talk with him today. We’ll hopefully try it again this weekend some time against the Cubs.”

Chris Dickerson started in center field but Jerry Hairston Jr. was back in the lineup and moved up to the leadoff spot. Hairston missed the last two games with a stomach flu. Why was Hairston moved up?

“No. 1, I wanted to split up right-left-right-left,” Baker said. “No. 2, last year Hairston was an outstanding leadoff man.”

The Reds were 25-19 last season when Hairston led off.

“Hopefully we can get some of the same,” Hairston said. “Whether I leadoff or hit second, I know my job is to get on base. Obviously hitting second, I may take a few more pitches to give the guy in front of you an opportunity to steal a base.”

Alex Gonzalez was also given a rest after he made the last 11 starts. Paul Janish got a start at shortstop.

“He’s been playing a lot,” Baker said. “I don’t want Janish to be out too long. I thought about doing it tomorrow but that’s not fair to Janish getting one start and he has to face [Cardinals Thursday starter Chris] Carpenter.”

Almost forgot to mention — no starter was named on Saturday yet. Baker said it was definitely not someone already up here. That seems to all but point to Matt Maloney to get the start vs. the Cubs.

Reds lineup:

Hairston 5
Dickerson 8
Phillips 4
Bruce 9
Hernandez 3
Nix 7
Hanigan 2
Janish 6
Cueto 1

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4 Comments

I tell you, I’m watching the game right now and I still like Nix, this is a guy I would like to see more of.

Cob
http://cobf.mlblogs.com

Class Mercker. I really enjoy listening to him.Russhttp://wight4256.mlblogs.com

Mercker did fine last night. I’m kind of baffled by the number of announcers the Reds have had this year – more than left fielders.

On that topic – Mark, I gotta say you do great in your snd-inning stints in the booth. You’re up against some pretty aggressicve personalities (maybe not Jeff B) and you hold your own. I’d be intimidated to death up there!
-Max

Merk did ok, although the thing I probably liked the most was hearing Marty do the play-by-play for the entire broadcast. No disrespect to Thom or Jeff, of course – I think they’re great too . . . it’s just Marty has been calling the games since before I was born, and hearing him takes me back to listening to him call a game while grandpa and I would toss baseball.

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