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ANGELS NOTES

Mercker Enjoys His Visit

May 30, 2000|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

CLEVELAND — Kent Mercker played some cards with his teammates, spent an inning of Monday's game as a guest in the television and radio booths, hung around the Angel clubhouse, talking with teammates . . . yes, he said, it was good to be back at the ballpark.

After suffering a life-threatening cerebral hemorrhage on the Edision Field mound May 11 and spending 12 days at UCI Medical Center, Mercker drove from his home in Dublin, Ohio, on Monday to visit the Angels in Jacobs Field.

"You miss this part of it more than playing--being around the guys, telling jokes, playing cards," said Mercker, who watched most of the Angels' 3-2 victory from the clubhouse. "This is fun."

It also was odd in a way, but not for Mercker. Though doctors have assured the pitcher he is in no danger and is at no risk of another brain injury, some of his friends and teammates, fully aware of the gravity of his situation a few weeks ago, felt a little awkward around him.

"People look at me funny, like they think I'm going to fall down or something," said Mercker, who hopes to pitch again this summer. "It's like they don't want to be the one shaking my hand when I fall down. It's not contagious or anything.

"I saw some friends at home, and they didn't know what to say. Garret [Anderson, Angel center fielder] asked if the doctors let me drive here. Yeah, I can drive. I just can't do much physical activity. I don't have a lot of energy."

*

Angel reliever Al Levine replaced starter Jarrod Washburn to start the sixth and threw two scoreless innings Monday, lowering his earned-run average to 3.18 in 19 appearances and further enhancing his value to the bullpen.

He also saved himself--and the Angels--with a superb defensive play in the sixth. After Omar Vizquel led off with a double, Roberto Alomar chopped a grounder back to the mound.

Levine fielded the ball and fired a perfect throw to third to retire Vizquel, a play that enabled the Angels to preserve a 2-0 lead despite Manny Ramirez's ensuing single. Levine got out of the sixth by getting David Justice to ground into a fielder's choice and Travis Fryman to fly out.

*

Both Manager Mike Scioscia and Washburn said the tightness in Washburn's left shoulder should not prevent the left-hander from making his next start. An off day Thursday will give Washburn an extra day of rest, and he is taking anti-inflammatory medication. . . . The Angels scored their first run with the help of Indian first baseman Jim Thome's double error on Scott Spiezio's grounder in the third inning. . . . Angel catcher Bengie Molina extended his hitting streak to 11 games and is batting .545 (24 for 44) during the stretch, raising his average from .250 to .348. . . . The Angels ended the Indians' club-record string of 19 consecutive games with a home run, dating to May 6.

TONIGHT

ANGELS' SCOTT SCHOENEWEIS (5-2, 5.00 ERA) vs. INDIANS' DAVE BURBA (4-1, 5.23 ERA)

Jacobs Field, Cleveland, 4 p.m.

TV--Channel 9. Radio--KLAC (570), XPRS (1090).

* Update--Schoeneweis ended a streak of rocky starts at four with a 7 1/3-inning, one-run, six-hit effort Thursday in the Angels' 3-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins. The left-hander will need another strong outing to keep the Angels in the game if Burba is as successful against the Angels as he has been--the right-hander went 3-0 with an 0.90 ERA in three starts against the Angels in 1999 and has a 4-0 record and 1.13 ERA in five starts against them. Burba, who spent the winter rehabilitating a strained right flexor tendon--he opted not to have surgery--has not lost since his second start of the year, against the Texas Rangers on April 14.

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