Rich Dubee posted the newest pitching schedule today, which essentially declared that the competition for the final few spots in the bullpen is on. Kyle Kendrick, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee will all me making their next starts in minor league games, freeing up the competing relievers to face major league regulars early in Grapefruit League games.
One of the leading candidates for one of the final three spots in the bullpen is righthander Phillippe Aumont, who returned to camp today after participating in Canada's intense showing in the World Baseball Classic. Aumont had a central role in a dramatic elimination game against the United States, getting Ryan Braun to groundout with the tying run on third to finish a scoreless seventh inning and protect a 3-2 lead.
"I threw that seventh inning and I came in (to the dugout) and I was still shaking," Aumont said.
The United States ultimately came back to win, but the experience was a good one for Aumont, who spent September with the Phillies last season and probably has a slight edge on fellow righthanders Mike Stutes and Justin De Fratus for one of the final spots in the bullpen. Aumont and lefty Jake Diekman are scheduled to face the Pirates on Thursday, while De Fratus will face the Yankees on Wednesday and the Rays on Friday. Today, Antonio Bastardo, Mike Adams and Jonathan Papelbon are pitching in a minor league game in order to give the players who have to prove themselves a chance to do it against major league competition. Jeremy Horst, Raul Valdes and Jake Diekman will follow Roy Halladay against the Tigers here at Bright House Field. Stutes is scheduled for Wednesday at New York, Saturday at New York, and Monday at Atlanta.