Aumont Makes Eighth-Inning Audition With Phillies





PHILADELPHIA—Phillies officials made it no secret during spring training that they believed righthander Phillippe Aumont was the reliever closest to contributing in the big leagues.

So a little more time in Triple-A and Aumont would be blowing away hitters in Philadelphia, right?

Not so fast. Aumont saw seven of his Lehigh Valley bullpen-mates go to Philadelphia before he finally got the call in late August.

"A few questions came to mind," Aumont said. "What do I need to do? Where do I stand? But I knew I couldn't get discouraged. I knew I needed to be more consistent, rack up good outings and it would come."

When the call did come, Aumont had his best run of consistency. He allowed only one run while striking out nine in 8 1/3 innings over his first nine big league appearances.

The eighth inning had been a disaster for the Phillies this season. Heading into the final two weeks, they had lost seven games in which they were one out away from giving closer Jonathan Papelbon a ninth-inning lead.

The 23-year-old Aumont stands 6-foot-7 and weighs 260 pounds. His fastball can reach 97 mph with sink, and his curveball and splitter are both out-pitches. He could be the set-up man the Phillies need—but only if he can throw strikes.

Repeating delivery mechanics has been an issue since the Mariners drafted Aumont as a raw teenager out of Quebec with the 11th pick in the 2007 draft. (Seattle dealt him to the Phillies in the Cliff Lee deal two years later.)

Aumont made strides with his control in 2012, though his rate of 6.9 walks per nine innings in Triple-A obscures that progress.

After walking 12 in his first nine innings of the season, he landed on the disabled list with a strained muscle near his shoulder blade. He spent three weeks rehabbing in Florida and returned with a fresh outlook in late May. It was like hitting the restart button.

"Before the injury, I didn't know what I was going to get day to day," Aumont said. "Everything was out of whack. Going to Florida allowed me to flush out the negative and I was consistent after that."

PHIL-UPS

• Lefthander Austin Wright, an eighth-round pick in 2011 out of Mississippi, won the Florida State League's pitcher of the year award after going 11-5, 3.47 in 27 games (25 starts) at high Class A Clearwater.

• Righthander Ethan Martin went 5-0, 3.18 in seven starts at Double-A Reading after coming over from the Dodgers in the Shane Victorino deal.