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 pitcher provides. Charlie Manuel wistfully spoke of Aumont while he scuffled in the minors. He returned because of circumstance. He 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 was not a member of the organization until late April. He began at single-A Clearwater and ascended to double A and, finally, six games at triple A. He posted a 1.67 ERA with 39 strikeouts in 37 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.
"He throws pretty hard," said a scout who recently saw Garcia. "I didn't love his offspeed stuff. I thought he was an organizational guy."
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 being here. The 24-year-old righty appeared in six games since his recall. His ERA was 4.26 with four strikeouts, three walks and a hit batter in 6 1/3 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 groundball outs, too.
Dubee, along with Manuel and Ruben Amaro Jr, met with Aumont before batting practice.
"I don't know if he's understanding of the move," Dubee said. "Nobody is."
He added: "He believes in 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."
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