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Older, Wiser Phillippe Aumont Now In Right Headspace



Righthander Phillippe Aumont’s first stint with the Blue Jays, back in the summer of 2015, right after he helped Canada win gold at the Pan American Games, lasted an unhappy 22 days.

The 11th overall pick in the 2007 draft returns to Toronto now on a minor league deal in a much different headspace.

“That guy back in the day was a mess,” Aumont said. “I was all over the place mentally . . . When (the Blue Jays) released me with a couple of weeks left in the season, I (felt) like, ‘Thank you for making my misery end.’

"I didn’t have fun. Baseball was just not in my mind anymore.”

The 31-year-old from Gatineau, Quebec, has pitched parts of four seasons in the big leagues. He has retired, unretired, been knocked around in affiliated ball and has resurrected his career in independent ball.

Over the past 12 months, his passion for the game was reignited with Ottawa of the Can-Am League. His fiancée Frederique and 5-month-old daughter Gabrielle have inspired him to be the best version of himself.

The opposite was true in 2016, when he retired. "It didn’t feel right," Aumont said.

He latched on in the Can-Am League in 2017 and signed with the Tigers for 2018 and pitched at Triple-A.

"I was still not in a good spot," Aumont said. "I was just going out there because I was getting an opportunity. I might as well take this . . . make a little bit of money—but baseball wasn’t that interesting for me.

“But I grinded it out, and it finally paid off. I finally got in the right spot, met the right woman. I’ve got my daughter and now life is a gift. I’m trying to do good things, so I can set her up for life when she’s older.”

No longer blessed with the same power sinker that attracted teams when he was in high school, Aumont now relies more on a cutter, throws a changeup for strikes and a curveball.

He received plenty of free agent interest from clubs seeking minor league depth, with the Blue Jays being the most persistent suitor.

JAYS CHATTER

— Aumont's contract with the Blue Jays contains no opt-outs, but Toronto assured him that they won’t block him from moving to Japan or Korea if he’s not in the big league plans.

— The Blue Jays signed righthanders A.J. Cole and Justin Miller, second baseman Andy Burns and outfielder Patrick Kivlehan to minor league deals.

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