Notes: Elbow lands Mercker on DL

Notes: Elbow lands Mercker on DL

CINCINNATI -- Veteran reliever Kent Mercker was asked to describe the lingering soreness he felt in his left elbow. Was it an ache, a dull pain or throbbing?

"Um, yeah. You pretty much hit it on the head," Mercker replied.

The injury is officially listed as left elbow inflammation, and it was enough to force Mercker onto the 15-day disabled list on Sunday. Right-hander Mike Burns was recalled from Triple-A Louisville, and was expected to arrive some time during the game against Philadelphia.

"I hate doing it. Usually, it takes a brain leak to put me on the DL," said Mercker, who actually did miss most of the 2000 season while with the Angels because of a brain aneurysm.

Often dependable in the late innings in a setup role, Mercker is 0-0 with a 3.52 ERA in 12 appearances this season.

The 38-year-old left-hander, who has also been battling back soreness since Spring Training, felt like he wasn't able to let his pitches go the way he'd like, especially his slider.

His absence means that lefties Chris Hammond and Brian Shackelford will be needed to step up.

"I figured if I can kind of nip it in the bud now, it will be full throttle for the last four months instead of just nagging me here and there," Mercker said. "If we're 5-30, I'd probably just try to bore through it and keep going. I don't want to go out there when we're playing well and try to be a hero and pitch and blow a game for [Aaron] Harang or whoever's pitching. We're playing too well."

It was possible that Mercker would undergo an MRI on Monday, but he considered that mostly a formality.

"I don't think it's anything major," he said. "Even if it is, at my age, what am I going to do? Have surgery and rehab it for '08? No."

Burns opened the season with Cincinnati and struggled with a 7.56 ERA in seven appearances. He was optioned to Louisville on April 19 and went 1-0 with a 1.84 ERA in nine games.

Making progress: Infielder Rich Aurilia, on the disabled list with a right groin strain since May 4, will travel with the club this week to Pittsburgh and Detroit. He's eligible for activation on Friday and should be ready.

Aurilia has been hitting, running and taking ground balls in recent days without issue but hasn't taken any extra chances.

"We have 15 days to get it right. Why rush it or do something to risk it?" Aurilia said. "We still have another five days. It should be OK."

HOF game plans: Manager Jerry Narron expects that most of his regular players will get just one at-bat in Monday's Hall of Fame game against the Pirates. Cincinnati will be considered the visiting team in the exhibition.

"We've got some guys who won't even see the field," Narron said. "They'll see the batters' box and that'll be it."

Regular second baseman Brandon Phillips will start the game at his other position, shortstop, and play a few innings. Phillips has played just one inning this season at shortstop.

Showers and cool temperatures are expected in Cooperstown, N.Y. Pitcher Eric Milton is still expected to start in a test for his surgically repaired left knee. But the club will be mindful of the weather so that it doesn't cause Milton any setbacks.

Taking the tour: Although several players weren't thrilled about losing a scheduled off-day to play an exhibition game on Monday, many anticipated the opportunity to tour the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Sunday evening.

"It'll be great to see all of the historical things that have been done in this game," catcher Jason LaRue said. "It's one of the only places you can see that stuff. I'm just going to try and take it all in."

Among the items on exhibit will be the ball Milton threw to notch a Sept. 11, 1999, no-hitter for the Twins; the bat Scott Hatteberg used for a walk-off homer that secured the A's 20th consecutive win in 2002; and several items belonging to Ken Griffey Jr.

Aurilia will get to see the bat he used in 1997, while with the Giants, to hit the first grand slam in Interleague Play. But because he won't get to make the trip, Mercker won't be able to see the ball from his April 8, 1994, no-hitter for the Braves.

"Richie said he's going to take a picture of it for me and send it to my cellphone," Mercker said. "I've already seen it. I saw it when I gave it to them."

Farm report: Right-hander Johnny Cueto pitched a five-inning no-hitter for Class A Dayton, the first no-hitter in that franchise's history. Cueto struck out eight and walked two in a 6-0 rain-shortened win over Wisconsin.

Coming up: After playing the Pirates on Monday in a meaningless game, the Reds will play three more against them that count. Harang will start Tuesday's 7:05 p.m. ET series opener for Cincinnati against lefty Paul Maholm.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.