CLEARWATER, Fla. – Phillippe Aumont returned to Phillies camp Tuesday, ready to resume his quest to win a spot in the opening day bullpen.
Aumont had been with Team Canada for the World Baseball Classic. The failed hockey players, as Aumont playfully called his team, were eliminated from the tournament on Sunday, but Aumont left with a bagful of memories.
He said Sunday’s contest against the U.S. was the “best game I’ve ever been part of.”
And then, of course, there was Saturday’s angry, bench-clearing brawl against Team Mexico.
“It was pretty intense,” Aumont said. “It was the first time I’ve ever been in an actual brawl where people were going to town on it.”
Aumont, a 6-foot-7 reliever, was a late arriver to the ninth-inning dustup as he had to run in from the bullpen.
“When I got there everything kind of separated,” he said. “I looked out and tried not to get sucker-punched or anything.”
Aumont was one of several Phillies involved in the fray.
Canadian teammate Tyson Gillies threw down Mexican reliever Alfredo Aceves. Former Phils pitcher Scott Mathieson, now pitching in Japan, was so enraged that it took several teammates to hold him back.
The brawl stemmed from Canada’s Rene Tosoni being intentionally plunked with a pitch by Mexico pitcher Arnold Leon. Sebastian Valle, another Phillie, was Mexico’s catcher at the time. He swung his catcher’s mask at Canadian players during the brawl and that didn’t sit well with Aumont.
After the game, Aumont sent out a tweet that said: “Phillies fan… How about Valle swinging at people with his catchers mask…#stupid.
Aumont deleted the tweet a short time later. He and Valle are longtime teammates in the Phillies’ system.
“Heat of the moment,” said Aumont, explaining the tweet. “I took it off right after that. It was something that at the moment I was frustrated about. After that I deleted it and I thought about it and it was not right for me to say that.”
Aumont and Valle saw each other in the Phils’ clubhouse Tuesday morning, but there was no problem. Valle was sent to the minors before Tuesday afternoon’s game, but that was expected.
“I probably said hi this morning, but it’s not like I’m going to look at him and try to fight him,” Aumont said. “The guy is my teammate. On the field it was different. What he did I thought was a little low, but that’s none of my business. He’s the one who deals with that.”
The brawl and Canada’s win made for an emotional scene in Canada’s clubhouse after the game.
“Just a bunch of failed hockey players pumped up,” he said. “That's what they call us -- failed hockey players. We were all cheering and pumped up, looking at the video and seeing what really happened."
Aumont was jokingly asked what successful hockey player he’d bring in for the next brawl. He did not hesitate. “Georges Laraque and if not Georges then Darcy Hordichuk.”
Saturday’s brawl resulted in fights in the stands at Phoenix’s Chase Field. Both teams received security escorts to their buses.
Aumont pitched in two games in the WBC. He struggled in his first outing and was tagged for three runs in two-thirds of an inning by Italy. He did not pitch in the brawl game, but came back with a scoreless seventh inning against Team USA in Canada’s third game. Canada led that game 3-2 before the U.S. scored seven runs in the final two innings en route to a 9-4 win. That loss eliminated Canada.
“The U.S. game was the best game I've ever been a part of,” Aumont said. “From the first pitch until they finished us in the ninth inning, I had butterflies the entire game. It was do-or-die and so much fun. Every run, getting up, cheering, high-fiving and all that stuff. I threw that seventh inning and I came in (to the dugout) and I was still shaking. I was like, 'We got this, we're going boys!' We just hit a bump, and it happens. That's what happens between the lines.”
While some players -- particularly U.S. players -- stay away from the WBC, Aumont has now been to two of them and would like to go again in four years.
“Absolutely,” he said, “I love going out there and playing with Team Canada. We're a big family. It's fun to be a part of that. It's very similar to this clubhouse here. Everybody is together, having fun.”
Aumont came into Phillies camp with an inside track on one of the three job openings in the team’s bullpen. He has pitched a scoreless inning in each of his two Grapefruit League appearances and will look to continue that success in his next scheduled outing on Thursday.