Phil Aumont a long way from shaky youngster of 2010

Revue de presse

Ryan Lawrence, Daily News Staff Writer, le 1er mars 2013

Phillippe Aumont TAMPA, Fla. - No matter how far removed he gets from that night, Phillippe Aumont can't escape it.

In the Phillies' first exhibition game of 2010, Aumont made his first appearance for his new team against Florida State. Aumont trotted in from the bullpen in the third inning, pitching in relief of J.A. Happ.

Photo ci-dessus : Phillippe Aumont in action during a workout at baseball spring training, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, in Clearwater, in Fla. (Matt Slocum/AP)

He wasn't able to finish the inning. Aumont, then 21, and the most heralded prospect of the three players the Phillies got back from Seattle in the controversial Cliff Lee trade 2 1/2 months earlier, gave up five runs on two hits and three walks against the Seminoles.

"I was still young, mentally," said Aumont, who mentioned the game during a press gathering after his work in the Phillies' 10-5 win over the Yankees. "I was getting too amped up, too nervous. I was thinking about everything but doing my job on the mound."

Aumont is no longer a frazzled, uncertain pitcher. In 3 years, he has matured into a focused, confident one.

Before leaving camp this weekend to join his Canadian teammates in preparation for the World Baseball Classic, Aumont reeled off his second straight impressive Grapefruit League performance in a bid to win a job in the bullpen. Aumont struck out the first batter he faced in a scoreless fourth inning.

In two games this spring, Aumont has allowed one hit, while striking out two and walking zero in two scoreless innings. It's a small sample size, but it's something he can take to the World Baseball Classic and build off of before returning to Clearwater later in the month.

"Now I just have to keep it going," Aumont said.

The talent in Aumont's arm should given him the chance to do so.

In 2007, the Seattle Mariners selected Aumont with the 11th overall pick. Among the players who followed: Atlanta's Jason Heyward (14th pick), Detroit's Rick Porcello (27th), Phillies centerfielder Ben Revere (28th) and Mets top prospect and former Phils trade bait Travis d'Arnaud (37th).

D'Arnaud and Aumont were traded on the same day 3 1/2 years ago. On Dec. 16, 2009, Aumont came from Seattle in the Lee trade, while d'Arnaud was a part of the Phillies' package that was sent to Toronto for Roy Halladay.

Aumont, now 24, took some time to develop in the aftermath - altering his mechanics, being moved from starter to reliever - but he has a bit of a kindred spirit in Halladay.

Halladay, who made his major league debut at age 21, didn't blossom into a dependable big-leaguer until age 24, after being sent all the way down to Class A to rebuild his mechanics. The 6-6 Halladay said it's challenging for taller pitchers to perfect their deliveries.

Aumont is 6-7.

"For a tall, lanky guy - there's a lot of movement there," Halladay said. "So it's got to take you a while to get comfortable and to where you're repeating your delivery every time. I think that's the biggest thing for younger, taller pitchers, guys that throw that hard: the consistency in your delivery.

"I think it's starting to click [for Aumont]. We've talked a little bit. He's starting to get a feel for different pitches when it feels right, so, as a young guy, you can get a long ways ahead if you can recognize when you feel like you're right, knowing when you're right and when you're not. It makes a big difference."

Aumont looked more than comfortable with his delivery on Friday: Eleven of his 12 pitches were strikes, including the first pitch to all four batters he faced.

He also looked strong. While most pitchers are building up arm strength, Aumont began throwing regularly in January in preparation for the World Baseball Classic.

He regularly hit 94 mph against the Yankees.

"There's more there," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "Every now and then, I want him to get mad and see what he's got. Seriously. I saw him last year throw 98, so he can really muscle it up there. He's coming into his own with his split. He was getting ahead of hitters, which is big."

Although the Phillies have a month of games remaining before they have to make any decisions, Aumont would have to be considered an early favorite for one of the three bullpen jobs up for grabs this spring. He has the biggest arm of any of the contenders.

The experience of pitching in the big leagues late last summer - and having success - bodes well for him, too.

In his first nine outings after being called up in late August, Aumont allowed one run on four hits while striking out nine and walking four in 8 innings. During that 3-week stretch, when the Phils were making a late-run at a wild card, all of Aumont's work came in the eighth inning or later and he held opponents to a .138 batting average.

"[That] definitely gave me a boost of confidence, knowing that they're giving me the opportunity and especially most of those games, I got the job done," Aumont said. "Everything starts to smooth out. You don't have to stress out about too much stuff. You just concentrate on getting your name called, get in the game and get the job done."

The 3-year anniversary of Aumont's least memorable night in a Phillies uniform is Sunday. But Aumont won't be thinking about college kids from Florida State as he joins his fellow countryman for the World Baseball Classic.

Aumont will be focusing on putting himself in the best shape to win a full-time job when he returns to camp.

"It's going to definitely accelerate the process of being ready for the last week of March," Aumont said of the WBC. "If I can do good in the next couple of weeks, then I'll be ready for that last week, and that can be decision time. If I'm ready, and if I'm doing good , then I have the odds on my side."

Revue de presse publiée par Jacques Lanciault.

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