For those wondering why Phillippe Aumont was a mess on the mound for Canada at last year’s World Baseball Classic, the relief pitcher is now prepared to provide his answer.
Speaking to Philadelphia reporters recently at the Phillies’ spring training site in Clearwater, Fla., the 25-year-old flame-throwing right-hander cited a mechanical flaw in his delivery for his poor performance in 2013.
Aumont posted a 16.20 earned-run average in 1 2/3 innings of work at the WBC and then made 22 appearances for the Phillies, allowing 24 hits and walking 13 batters in 19 1/3 innings with a 4.19 ERA.
He was demoted to triple-A in late May and continued to struggle, walking 38 batters in 35 2/3 innings, including at least one batter in eight of his final nine appearances for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs to go with 42 strikeouts and a 4.04 ERA.
That wasn’t good enough to warrant a September callup, according to Phillies management, when major league teams can expand their rosters, and Aumont’s season ended on Sept. 2.
“What happened last year was really a question mark,” said Aumont, who hails from Gatineau, Que. “Like, ‘Why is this happening? All of that stuff. But if you look back on video, I’m not sound mechanically, I was not sound mentally, that’s for sure.”
When Aumont was bad on the mound, his body moved from right to left instead of toward home plate, pulling his right arm with it and sending the ball straight and high in the strike zone.
For Aumont, the 11th overall pick in the 2007 amateur draft, it has always been about repeating his mechanics.
New coaching staff
The six-foot-seven, 260-pound hurler is prepared for a fresh start this season, something presented to him by the Phillies’ new coaching staff.
Larry Andersen, a guest instructor at spring training who had two stints pitching for the Phillies in the early 1980s and ‘90s, has told Aumont that he needs to stand upright on the mound. “Don’t pitch like your five-foot-seven,” he says.
In early spring workouts, Aumont has been more upright than the pitcher with the hunched delivery last season.
'We thought at some point in the  season he would be a dominating guy for us in the bullpen. ... We haven't given up on him getting to that point, and I don't think he has.' - Phillies assistant GM Benny Looper on Phillippe Aumont
Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure, who takes over from Rich Dubee this season, believes Aumont tried to please too many people last season.
“You have to realize how good your stuff is,” said Anderson of Aumont, who throws a heavy sinker and nasty breaking ball.
“We thought at some point in the  season he would be a dominating guy for us in the bullpen,” said Phillies assistant general manager Benny Looper. “He didn’t get to that point. We haven’t given up on him getting to that point, and I don’t think he has.”
While the competition for bullpen jobs is strong this spring, Aumont speaks with confidence.
“Nothing is going to stop me here,” said Aumont, who sported a 3.68 ERA with the Phillies in 2012. “I look around. There’s nobody that’s going to stop me. If they do, then good for them. But in my mind, I’m going to go to the end [of spring training].
“I’ve brushed off 2013 like it never happen. … I’m just thinking about making this club.”