CINCINNATI -- This was a choice no son should have to make, much less on Mother's Day. Accept a promotion back to the Major Leagues, or remain in Florida at the bedside of his gravely ill mom?
That was the choice facing Brewers right-hander Mike Fiers on Saturday night.
"I asked my mom, what do you think?" Fiers said. "She said, 'Yeah, get out of here. You've got a job.'"
So it was with a heavy heart and a racing mind that Fiers boarded a flight from Fort Lauderdale to Cincinnati on Sunday morning -- Mother's Day -- and joined the Brewers' bullpen. He replaced left-hander Tom Gorzelanny, placed on the disabled list the night before with shoulder tendinitis.
Before going to the airport, Fiers made one last stop. He rose at 5 a.m. Sunday and spent 45 minutes with his mom, Linda Korman.
"I want to stay there with her as much as possible, but she understands these opportunities don't come too often," Fiers said. "We had Mother's Day yesterday, so [it was comforting] just to be with her that whole day and knowing she wants me to do my job here. She would rather see me up in the big leagues than sitting with her, even though we have great times together."
Korman has suffered for many years from lupus, an autoimmune disease. Recently, Fiers said, she began having extreme difficulty breathing.
When she went to the hospital for tests, doctors delivered devastating news.
"Everything -- her kidneys, liver, lungs -- everything was shutting down," Fiers said.
The prognosis was grim.
"The doctors, early on, didn't really have a bright side to it," he said. "I had to definitely be there."
Linda did not want to bother her son with the news, but a family friend informed him of the situation's gravity. So Fiers, who began the season in the Brewers' rotation but was demoted to Triple-A Nashville after one start, began commuting between starts to Fort Lauderdale to be with his mother.
Last week, the Brewers made it easier for Fiers by transferring him to Class A Brevard County, about a two-hour drive from home. He made one start there on Wednesday, and on his non-pitching days he worked out at the ballpark in the morning before driving down to be with his mom. The Brewers' kind gesture did not go unnoticed.
"I have to thank them, for sure," Fiers said.
He was with mom on Saturday when Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash called offering a promotion. The Brewers needed relief help; did Fiers feel ready to return?
He asked his mom, and she didn't hesitate. Go, she said.
After the last two days -- good days, Fiers said -- he decided to obey. Fiers left with renewed hope for her recovery.
"I did see improvement in the last two days," Fiers said. "She's been in there for two weeks now, and the last two days were very, very, very, good, in the sense of her interacting a little bit more and just having more energy, not just sitting there. It was tough for a while to go in there and see her in that position."
He was badly needed by the Brewers, who got only four innings from starter Yovani Gallardo on Friday and three innings from Hiram Burgos on Saturday.
"There's definitely a lot going on," Fiers said. "It's tough. The game of baseball is a lot, and you try to make it as simple as possible. Then you've got things outside that kind of makes it a little tougher. The only thing I can do is make it as simple as possible. Just think about the game out there and just try to help this team win. I'm trying to stay mentally strong."
He'll have mom on his mind. She has had a big influence on his baseball career.
"She's always allowed me to play sports and helped me out through school and college and all these things, driving me to the games," Fiers said. "She's always been there. It's tough."