Aumont a step ahead for final bullpen spot

Aumont a step ahead for final bullpen spot

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- This is a big week for Phillies right-hander Phillippe Aumont.

The Phillies must finalize their 25-man roster before Opening Day on Monday at Turner Field, and there are three jobs still available in the bullpen. Left-handers Jeremy Horst and Raul Valdes are front-runners for two of the jobs, which leaves Aumont and right-hander Mike Stutes competing for the final one.

Aumont seems to be ahead of Stutes at this point. He threw a perfect seventh inning on Monday in a 13-4 loss to the Blue Jays at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. He has a 2.84 ERA in six Grapefruit League appearances, allowing three hits, two runs, three walks and striking out five in 6 1/3 innings. Stutes, who missed most of last season with an injured right shoulder, has an 8.10 ERA in nine appearances, allowing 10 hits, nine runs, eight walks and striking out eight in 10 innings.

Stutes, Horst and Valdes are scheduled to pitch on Tuesday against the Rays at Bright House Field.

"Obviously, I still think about it that I could get called into the office," said Aumont, referring to a potential demotion to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. "They could be, 'Hey, you've got to work on some of your stuff in Triple-A.' Obviously, I'd be disappointed, but they're giving me the opportunity right now to work on stuff with them and to prove to them I can adjust and make improvements on the things they're telling me to do to get better."

Aumont seemed to make an adjustment Monday after struggling with his mechanics in his previous two appearances, when he allowed one hit, one run and three walks in 2 1/3 innings.

"I felt better," he said. "I felt much more comfortable."

"He looked a little bit better," added Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, who also said he can see himself mixing and matching Aumont and left-hander Antonio Bastardo in the seventh inning.

Aumont certainly is hoping to make the team. The Phillies view him as a future back-of-the-bullpen pitcher like closer Jonathan Papelbon and setup man Mike Adams. He would get the opportunity to learn from the best if he sticks around.

But he also said he won't be on pins and needles this week.

"I'm not going to sit on the edge," he said. "Obviously, I don't want to get sent down. I want to be part of the special team we're going to have this year. But I'm not going to sit on the edge. I'm going to keep working hard. If they think I can fit on there to go get a championship, that's great. If I have to work on some stuff and come later, then that's what it is."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.