Savery Goes Back To The Hill

Stuff plays up in a relief role





PHILADELPHIA—Joe Savery wasn't the best player in baseball this season, but he might have had the best story. He began the year hanging on as a hitter in the low minors and ended it as a reliever in the majors, retiring catcher Brian McCann for a big out in the Phillies' 100th win of the season.

"It was awesome," a beaming Savery said after that game.

Savery had shoulder surgery after his sophomore season at Rice. That didn't stop the Phils from drafting him in the first round in 2007. But after three-plus seasons in the minors, his arm strength never came back. Savery was also a hard-hitting first baseman at Rice. He'd done some DHing in the minors in 2010. The Phils invited him back as a hitter in 2011 and he began the season in high Class A. He was promoted to Double-A Reading in June.

A few nights before his promotion, Savery was pressed into relief in a 23-inning game in Florida. Club officials were impressed with his arm that night so they had him throw a bullpen. Before he knew it, he was working in short relief, struck out 14 in nine innings and was promoted to Triple-A, where he went 5-0, 1.50 in 25 games. He struck out 41 and walked just six in 36 innings. Savery's truck was packed and he was ready to begin the drive home to Houston the morning after the Triple-A season ended when he received a phone call telling him to detour to Philadelphia. Savery shed a tear when he got the news.
 
"There's no way you could have come up with this," the 25-year-old lefty said. "I was ready to go back to school this fall. I was trying to line up internships and jobs. I figured I was getting to the point where I had worn out my welcome and I wasn't going to get in the way anymore. I figured I was close to the end."

Savery isn't sure what happened. Maybe resting the arm helped. Maybe short bursts out of the bullpen agree with him. His fastball is registering 91-94 mph, his slider has been sharp, and he's back in the Phillies' plans.

PHIL-UPS

• Domonic Brown will spend a few weeks in instructional league working on the transition to left field.

• Catcher Tuffy Gosewich (United States), pitchers Jay Johnson and Chris Kissock and outfielder Tyson Gillies (Canada) are among the Phillies farmhands participating in the World Cup in Panama in October.