CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies reliever Phillippe Aumont ran in from the bullpen in the ninth inning Saturday afternoon in Phoenix and found himself right smack in the middle of an international incident.
“It was pretty intense,” Aumont said Tuesday after rejoining the Phillies following his three-game hiatus with Canada in the World Baseball Classic. “It was the first time I’ve ever been in an actual brawl where people were going to town on it.”
The melee started after Mexico’s Arnold Leon disregarded an umpire’s warning following two brush back pitches and drilled Canada’s Rene Tosoni. Fists started flying, but a little order had been restored by the time Aumont made it into the middle of the scrum from the Canadian bullpen.
“I was trying to stay out of trouble,” he said. “I was more frozen than anything else when I got there. When I got there everything kind of separated. I looked out and tried not to get sucker punched or anything.”
Afterward, the testosterone level in the Canadian clubhouse was still high.
“Just a bunch of failed hockey players pumped up and ready to do another one,” Aumont said. “That's what they call (Canadian baseball players) -- failed hockey players. We were all cheering and pumped up, obviously looking at the video and seeing what really happened.”
Aumont made some news shortly after the game by sending out a tweet that called out his Phillies teammate Sebastian Valle, the catcher for Mexico when the brawl started. “Phillies fan.. How about Valle swinging at people with his catchers mask.. #stupid.”
“Heat of the moment,” Aumont said. “I took it off right after that. It was something that at the moment I was frustrated about and, like I said, it was a heat of the moment thing. After that I deleted it and I thought about it and it was not right for me to say that.”
Aumont said he did not say too much to Valle, who also returned to camp Tuesday but was among five players optioned to the minor leagues before the Grapefruit League game against the Detroit Tigers.
“I probably said hi this morning, but it’s not like I’m going to look at him and try to fight him,” Aumont said. “The guy is my teammate. On the field it was different. What he did I thought was a little low, but that’s none of my business. He’s the one who deals with that.”
What Aumont must deal with now is his bid to make a big-league opening-day roster for the first time in his career. Because of his power arm, the 24-year-old righthander is considered a favorite to be among the team’s seven-man relief corps, but nothing is guaranteed.
“I feel good,” he said. “I just got to keep throwing strikes. Obviously that game against Italy wasn’t good for me, but I just have to erase that and go off what I did before I left and what I did in that game against the U.S. I have to feed off that and keep going from there.”
Aumont had mixed results in his two World Baseball Classic appearances. He allowed three runs on five hits in two-thirds of an inning in his first game against Italy, which resulted in a costly loss for Canada. He rebounded a few days later to pitch a scoreless inning against the United States, allowing the Canadian team to maintain a 3-2 lead through the seventh inning. The U.S. team rebounded to win with seven runs in the final two innings.
"It was the craziest thing I've ever been to,” Aumont said of the tournament. “Mexico, obviously, was really intense, and the U.S. game was the best game I've ever been a part of. From there first pitch until they finished us in the ninth inning, I had butterflies the entire game. It was do or die and so much fun. Every run, getting up, cheering, high-fiving and all that stuff. I threw that seventh inning and I came in (to the dugout) and I was still shaking. I was like, 'We got this, we're going boys!’ ”
Instead, the U.S. team won and Aumont was back in Phillies camp Tuesday morning. The adrenaline level may be down a little in the next few weeks, but there is still plenty on the line for the young righthander from Canada.