ALLENTOWN - Scott Mathieson has had his share of disappointment as a professional ballplayer, and last night was no exception.
"Oh, I understand why I didn't get in," said Mathieson, who was the only pitcher not used by the International League in last night's Triple A All-Star Game at Coca-Cola Park. "But every game is important to me. I go into every game with the same approach, because there are 29 other teams watching these games. My goal is to make it to the next level and stay there. Right now, I'd love for it to be the Phillies, but then you never know when an opportunity will arise."
Mathieson's Lehigh Valley teammates Andy Tracy (1-for-2) and pitcher Nate Bump (one inning, no runs, nine strikes on 10 pitches) did their part in a 2-1 win over the Pacific Coast League at the IronPigs' home park.
The 26-year old hard-throwing righthanded reliever was voted to the team on the strength of 17 saves for the Phillies Triple A affiliate. But, in the end, he was needed more for security than anything else.
"If it went to the 10th, we needed him for the 10th," said Lehigh Valley manager Dave Huppert, who was the third-base coach for the International League. "I explained it to him and he understands. He's disappointed, but he threw in the last two games of the first half and he'll be in there [tonight] and Friday night."
To some, the fact that Mathieson is still pitching is a bit of a miracle. Consider that since his first callup to the Phillies in 2006, he's undergone three surgeries on his left elbow. That's right, three times Mathieson has gone under the knife, including a pair of Tommy John surgeries. Now, he just wants a chance to return to the major leagues.
"I just wanted to get through the year with no pain," said Mathieson, who appeared in 13 games for Double A Reading last year with a 1.40 ERA. "I made it through last year and that was a big step."
"Give him a lot of credit," Huppert said. "He's been fantastic. He's had a great attitude. He picked up where he left off [after being called up by the Phillies for one appearance in mid-June]. He knew if he kept going, things would go his way. He's taken everything in a very positive light when he certainly could have gone the other way."
After a fast start to his 2010 campaign with the IronPigs, an argument could have been made that Mathieson deserved to join the Phillies sooner than later this season. Mathieson is 3-2 with a 2.04 ERA in33 relief appearances.
"Did [the callup] go like I wanted it too?" asked Mathieson. "No. I would have loved to get more of a chance and hopefully I'll get another one.
"Who knows? Going into this season I didn't know what to expect and I don't think they knew either. The word is I needed to work on my secondary pitches, and I have. I'm comfortable throwing them in any count. I think I've shown that."
"He's really picked up right where he left off," Huppert said. "He came back with the attitude that if he works hard he'll be called back. Everything he's gone through? He's learned that a good attitude means plenty.
"He's showing a better breaking ball and more and more confidence in it. He's willing to use his change to lefties now. He's more of a pitcher now than just a thrower. He threw a 2-2 slider to strike out [Greg] Golson the other day in Scranton with the bases loaded. The more and more he uses it, the more and more confident he'll get, and the organization sees that in our daily reports."