Must-win Phils can't be patient with Aumont

Must-win Phils can't be patient with Aumont

July 9, 2013, 7:00 pm
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Phils pitching coach Rich Dubee said Aumont needs more reps than he's getting with the big league club. (USA Today Images)

Entering this season, Phillies officials hoped that Mike Adams and Phillippe Aumont would be big difference-makers in their bullpen.

So much for the best-laid plans of Ruben Amaro Jr.

Adams, the man who was supposed to fix the eighth inning, suffered a season-ending shoulder breakdown and Aumont, the big, power-armed right-hander with the tantalizing potential, has been a model of inconsistency.

Looking for a bullpen upgrade and either wary of the prices set by potential trade partners or unwilling to make a deal until they have a better feel whether the team is a contender or a pretender, Phillies management sent Aumont back to Triple A for the second time this season on Tuesday (see story).

Little-known Luis Garcia, a right-hander who had an 11.57 ERA in independent ball last year, was brought up from Triple A to take Aumont’s spot.

Aumont was sent down before batting practice on Tuesday.

Pitching coach Rich Dubee was frank in explaining why Aumont was sent down. Dubee also indicated that Aumont was stubborn and needed to employ some self-evaluation.

“He needs more reps,” Dubee said of the 6-foot-7 Aumont, who, when he’s on, can hit 95-mph-plus on the radar gun.

“Consistency is a big factor. Sometimes it’s hard to use him in some situations. He needs to go down there and pitch. He hasn’t been getting any groundball outs, which is disturbing. I think he’s got one ground ball out this month. He should be a sinkerball, groundball machine. His fastball has been flat. So, give him some more reps.”

Dubee said it was difficult to get Aumont mound time because the Phils are playing must-win games.

At Triple A, player development comes before winning.

“Up here, the need is to win,” Dubee said. “We’re supposed to win every night. So hopefully this will give him more time to get out there on a regular basis.”

Dubee believes Aumont needs to change his pitching mechanics, lengthen his stride toward home plate and use his height to more advantage. Aumont has been reluctant to change because a longer stride feels uncomfortable.

“He believes what he’s doing is going to work,” Dubee said. “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.

“Personally, I think he needs more length in his stride. For a big guy, he should be getting out on top of hitters. But when you try to do that there is not that comfort zone, that trust zone. Those are things hopefully they’ll chip away at (in Triple A) and get him some length, get him on top of hitters more often, throwing from 60-feet at 6-foot-7. That’s tough to do at this level when you’re looking for consistency and looking for performance. And now all of a sudden you’re trying to change it. They’ll go back to work on it. He’ll get out there more on a regular basis.”

Aumont opened the season with the Phillies. Team officials hoped he was ready to harness his power fastball and breaking ball. They envisioned him moving into high-leverage relief situations by this time of the year. Instead, Aumont has a 4.19 ERA and a whopping 1.914 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) in 22 games. He has 19 strikeouts and 13 walks.

Aumont was initially sent to the minors in late May. He was recalled in late June and continued to struggle. In 6 1/3 innings, he allowed three runs, three walks and a .304 opposing hitters batting average.

Aumont was not available for comment.

Dubee implied that the pitcher was not happy about the move.

“I don’t know if he’s understanding of the move. Nobody is,” Dubee said. “I think it was explained well by Ruben. Phillippe is a big asset for us and we need him throwing the ball as well as he’s capable of throwing it. For that to happen, he needs to go down there and get more opportunities to pitch.

“Whether he thinks Triple A is not challenging enough to him or he has to pitch here, whatever. I think he has to do some self-evaluation after every game. How did he throw the ball and where the ball was in reference to the strike zone? Was it knee-high or above? Was it sinking? He’s seen enough major-league hitters now he should know what gets a major-league hitter out and what doesn’t get them out. If he’s not making good enough pitches, he has to push himself to make better pitches now, so when he does come up here he has that ability ingrained in him.”