Phillies Notes: Phils send down Aumont, take chance on journeyman

Phillippe Aumont's stint in the Phillies bullpen is over. He was optioned to Lehigh Valley.
Phillippe Aumont's stint in the Phillies bullpen is over. He was optioned to Lehigh Valley. (      CLEM MURRAY / Staff)
Posted: July 11, 2013

Phillippe Aumont's locker at Citizens Bank Park is closest to the door that leads to a hallway. Turn right, walk 100 feet, and there is the Phillies dugout. Go left, and the exit is a few steps away. All of Aumont's teammates went right Tuesday afternoon for practice while the pitcher was left to collect his belongings.

The Phillies love the promise the hulking Canadian righthander provides. Manager Charlie Manuel wistfully spoke of Aumont while he scuffled in the minors. He returned because of circumstance. The 24-year-old leaves once again amid criticism from his pitching coach, Rich Dubee.

"He's hard to give a lot of stuff to," Dubee said, "because what he's doing, he feels comfortable doing."

This team is searching for any answer in a battered bullpen. They viewed Luis Garcia, a 26-year-old pitcher who posted an 11.57 ERA in independent ball a season ago and never reached higher than single A until 2013, as a better asset than Aumont.

Aumont was optioned to triple-A Lehigh Valley. Garcia won a tryout late in spring training and signed. He floated between single-A Clearwater and double-A Reading, then, finally, pitched in six games at triple A. He posted a 1.67 ERA with 39 strikeouts in 372/3 total innings.

Garcia did not pitch in organized baseball in 2011. He pitched in nine games for the Newark Bears of the Can-Am League in 2012.

Dubee has never seen him pitch. He knows he throws with his right hand. He read reports filed by the organization's minor-league staff.

"He's here," Dubee said. "If he's here, he's going out there. What's he here for, his beauty?"

The Phillies saw no advantage in Aumont's being here. He appeared in six games since his recall. His ERA was 4.26 with four strikeouts, three walks, and a hit batter in 61/3 innings. Consistency is an issue that has dogged Aumont, a former first-round pick, ever since his acquisition from Seattle.

Further concerning is a drop in Aumont's velocity, which Dubee attributed to mechanical flaws. Aumont's fastball averaged 96 m.p.h. in 2012. He threw it at 94 m.p.h. in 2013. The pitching coach lamented the lack of ground-ball outs, too.

Dubee met before batting practice with Aumont along with Manuel and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.

"I don't know if he's understanding of the move," Dubee said. "Nobody is."

He added: "He believes what he's doing is going to work. You need belief in what you're doing, but at the same time I think there's more upside if he gets lengthened out a little bit. I don't mind headstrong guys. If you don't believe in what you're doing, you're not going to be successful. On the other hand, you have to have some self evaluation to see what's working and what isn't working."

Extra bases

The Phillies will face a lefthanded starter in four of their next five games to end the first half. That is not the worst thing; they entered Tuesday with a .719 OPS against lefties, which ranked fourth in the National League. . . . Mike Adams was transferred to the 60-day disabled list to clear space for Garcia. Adams (shoulder tears) is unlikely to pitch again in 2013.

Contact Matt Gelb at Follow on Twitter @magelb.

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