Phillies Notes: Phillippe Aumont believes World Baseball Classic can help him win Phillies job

Spring in their step: Phillies pitchers warm up before the second day of workouts in Clearwater. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Spring in their step: Phillies pitchers warm up before the second day of workouts in Clearwater. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Posted: February 16, 2013

CLEARWATER, Fla. - The World Baseball Classic was Phillippe Aumont's validation in 2009. The hulking Canadian faced six American all-stars, including Jimmy Rollins, in succession and survived a scoreless inning.

"It was my first big step," Aumont said.

On March 3, Aumont will leave Phillies camp, where he is competing for a bullpen job, and fly to Arizona. He will pitch for Canada again, this time under different circumstances. It's time for Aumont to take the next step.

"If I can go there, throw strikes, and have some good outings," Aumont said, "I think it can only put me in a good position when I come back."

Aumont, 24, ended last season in a great position. He made a fine impression in 18 late-season outings that displayed his raw and mostly untapped potential. He ascended to setup man in a depleted bullpen two games into his major-league career.

"It got much more simple when I got up to Philadelphia," Aumont said. "I didn't try to overdo things. I got there. I wasn't trying to get there anymore. That took away some of the stress. I just had to pitch, get the guys out, and do my job. I was pretty happy."

Leaving camp could have ramifications. The Phillies have three open bullpen spots and could be more inclined to think of the arms they see on a regular basis. Aumont does not expect to close for Canada, which also has Milwaukee relievers John Axford and Jim Henderson.

Then again, if Aumont impresses on a bigger stage than Grapefruit League play, he could improve his standing. Pitching coach Rich Dubee said Aumont's absence would have no negative effect.

"I think if I do well, it can only help me," Aumont said. "There is better competition there than in spring training. Most of the lineup is bigger guys. Even if it's Italy or Mexico, a lot of those guys are playing professional baseball. They're all competitive. When you pitch in spring training, sometimes you face the B lineup, and it's guys who played A ball the year before."

Adams impresses

The questions about Mike Adams' health will persist because: (1) The Phillies spent more money on him than any other player this winter, and (2) he underwent a rare surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome.

The Phillies are thrilled with the early returns.

"Did you see him throwing over there today?" Charlie Manuel said. The manager raised his eyebrows. "He was throwing pretty good."

Thoracic outlet syndrome involves pain in the shoulder and tingling of the fingers. In the surgery, Adams had a rib removed that was pinching a nerve and causing numbness in his arm.

Adams, 34, was one of the top setup men in baseball before his injury derailed 2012. He is encouraged by his response.

"Personally, I feel there's more in there to get out," Adams said. "If they felt the velocity was good, then that is a plus. The only thing that can happen now is to keep gaining strength in my shoulder and hopefully the velocity keeps going up."

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