TAMPA, Fla. — Phillippe Aumont had one more appearance with the Phillies before leaving to join Canada in the World Baseball Classic. Facing mostly minor-league Yankees, he showed off a fastball Friday that hovered at 95 m.p.h
"I've been throwing a lot of strikes," Aumont said. "Now I just have to keep it going. If you remember a few years ago, I got rocked by Florida State."
Yes, Aumont is more mature mentally and physically than three springs ago when college kids bashed him. This winter, he threw bullpens for three weeks before camp started, knowing he would need to be ready sooner for Canada.
"So I had a few under my belt before I showed up," Aumont said. "Right away, I started working on command and all of that stuff. It wasn't just, 'OK, I just need to get the arm going.' I knew I needed to get it going. And, so far, so good."
Team Canada will be pleased to hear that. The Phillies will have eyes on Aumont during the tournament. They have to be impressed with the early results. Aumont allowed a single and recorded a strikeout in his inning Friday. He pitched a spotless inning earlier in the week.
Manager Charlie Manuel loves the electricty in Aumont's big right arm.
"He's got more there," Manuel said. "I want to see him get mad and see how much he's got. I saw him last year throw 98, so I know he can definitely muscle it up there. He's definitely coming into his own."
The trickle-down effect of Mike Adams' addition means Aumont is not needed for the ninth or eighth innings. But should the Phillies choose to use Antonio Bastardo on a lefty or two in the seventh inning, they will want a righthanded arm who can complement him.
He is excited to pitch for Canada, for whom he will assume a seventh-inning role. The goal is bigger, though.
"I'm still not trying to be ready right now," Aumont said. "I'm just trying to take it gradually throughout the spring. I have to be ready for the tournament; it's not the important stuff, but still you have pride when you get on the field for your country. The adrenaline will kick in. But my priority is to come back healthy and compete for a job."
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