Righties Gonzalez, Aumont have work to do

Phillies pitchers combine to allow four runs Thursday vs. Astros

Righties Gonzalez, Aumont have work to do

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Reliever Phillippe Aumont is out of options. Starter Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez is in the second year of a three-year contract. The two right-handers are considered to have significant upsides, but neither has yet demonstrated the consistency they need to help the Phillies win at the big league level.

Both pitchers worked in Thursday's 6-3 Grapefruit League loss to the Astros at Osceola County Stadium. Gonzalez allowed two runs on four hits while pitching the third and fourth innings. Aumont gave up back-to-back home runs to Robbie Grossman and Marwin Gonzalez in the fifth.

Manager Ryne Sandberg said he thought the 28-year-old Gonzalez, who is competing for the fifth spot in the rotation and dealt with shoulder problems after signing a $12 million deal as a Cuban free agent, pitched better than his line indicated.

"That's probably the best I've seen him as far as [health] and the fastball ... [and the] breaking pitch. That's the best stuff I've seen him have since he came over here," Sandberg said. "He looks like he's healthy, has a little zip on the fastball. That can get better as he goes along. But compared to last year, it's night and day."

Sandberg was less encouraged by the 26-year-old Aumont.

"Just a combination of hittable pitches that get squared up and getting behind in the count," Sandberg said. "So he's got some work to do. There are adjustments to be made there. When you pitch from behind, the hitters hit fastballs. Typically, the hitters see him pretty well [when that happens].

"The biggest thing is working ahead. Really, he has a good breaking ball when he gets to those counts. But sometimes he gets hit before he gets to those counts."

Aumont demonstrated that to George Springer, striking the outfielder out with the help of two good breaking balls after the second home run. And because of his potential, it's likely that he would be claimed if the Phillies had to put him on waivers.

"This is a big Spring Training for him as far as being with the Phillies," Sandberg said. "He's had multiple chances, and this is a clean slate opportunity for him. This is a new season with competition in camp and jobs to be won. There are some spots available. So this is an important spring for him as far as staying with the Phillies."

Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.