"I haven't been able to get a feel for my changeup again since I
was cut on [he had labrum surgery prior to his final year at
Rice]. I was throwing a cutter the second half and a sinker that
was helping me. But part of the concern is if my stuff will
compete at that next level, and that's what you have to look
That answer hasn't been given definitively just yet, but the
Phillies and Savery appear to be going down the road of it being
Starting with the end of the 2010 season and now during
instructional league play in Florida, Savery is exploring going
back and starting over, this time as a hitter.
While most liked him as a pitcher back in college, it's not like
his hitting skills went completely ignored. He hit .356/.435/.505 in his junior season at Rice, and while he didn't wow scouts with
his bat speed or power, there were some things to like there, a
lefty hitter who may have profiled as a Mark Grace-type hitter if everything came together.
When Savery was demoted to the bullpen this season, he and the
Phillies began talking about letting him swing the bat from time
to time. He got some opportunities to DH over the year and
showed some positive signs, hitting .348 with three
doubles and a homer in 46 at-bats with Lehigh Valley. At
instructs, he's getting the chance to hit and play first base
every day for the first time since he left Rice. It's proven to
be a bittersweet experiment for Savery.
"It's hard to give up on [pitching] and feel you didn't do what
you were signed to do," Savery said. "It's hard to not be able to do the things you used to do. But that's part of the game and
life. This has been an emotionally tough thing. But I am excited
the Phillies are giving me a chance to look at this to see if
there's something I can give to this game."
The Phillies and Savery haven't officially closed the door on his pitching career, but it certainly seems like that's the direction Savery's career path is headed. And while it's believed to be a tough transition to make -- going from position player to pitcher is thought to be an easier conversion -- there are some examples of success from others doing something similar.
The biggest one, of course, is Rick Ankiel, but the one that
might be the best comparison for Savery is the Astros' Brian
Bogusevic. The former two-way standout at Tulane was a 2005
first-round pick, as a left-handed pitcher. He pitched for the
Astros until 2008, when he began making the switch to the
outfield. After just two full seasons of playing every day,
Bogusevic received his first big league callup on Sept. 1 and has gone
"I can see and agree it's harder, but you look at a guy like
Bogusevic, who I did talk to briefly about this, he enjoys
playing every day," Savery said. "I don't think you can
underestimate, the guys who have done this, they had to want to
do what they're doing. I believe if it's something you want to
do, the transition will be much easier."
The more Savery has played in Clearwater during instructs, the
more he's felt the rust shake off and some of the athleticism of
being a position player return. He feels that pitching has
enabled him to have a better understanding of his body and what
he wants it to do. Getting it to do what he wants all the time,
especially in situations like facing left-handed pitching, is
something that will come in time and with repetition. And he's
remembering quickly that if things don't go well one day, there's always tomorrow for a position player.
"That's the great thing about hitting and fielding, you get the
next chance the next day," Savery said. "And you get way more
reps. I am a little tired, but I have to get back in the swing of things, and I'm not used to doing that."
He's getting more accustomed to thinking of himself as a hitter
as well. The lines of communication have been open since the idea of giving
this a try was first broached earlier this season, and Savery
knows the conversation will come soon about whether this will be
a permanent switch or if it was just an experiment. Savery seems
prepared for whatever comes next, whether it's starting a new
chapter or going back to continue working on the old one.
"I was a high pick as a pitcher and wanted to be successful,"
Savery said. "But I'm treating my time here as if I'm making the
switch to hitting. I'm treating this as if I'm becoming a hitter. I've been working at first base every morning. I'll be in the
lineup a good bit and that's how the instructors are treating
"Guys don't ever do both, and I know that, but I'm not going to
close my mind to either one right now."