Telemaco Ready For Return To Majors, Right Now

Amaury Telemaco was once a promising young right-hander working his way toward a major league career. He never quite hit the status that many baseball scouts thought that he would, but then, things got really ugly when he felt pain in his right shoulder. A long stint on the disabled list put his future in doubt, but the Phillies thought he might have something to offer and offered him a minor league contract with no guarantees.

Amaury Telemaco was never quite sure that he would pitch in the majors again. He came to spring training hoping to at least win a spot with the Phillies AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons, but knew it wouldn't be easy. The Phillies had their fill of young, talented pitchers and though Telemaco wasn't over the hill at 29, he had a lot of miles on his injury scarred shoulder.

Telemaco pitched in seven minor league games in 2002 and even though they went well, the road back was rather bumpy. Telemaco's 2002 season started with extended spring training before he made one start for Scranton and found himself back on the DL. From there, he spent a week in the Gulf Coast League before being reassigned to AA Reading. Again, he made one start and was back on the DL by the fourth of July. The recurring problems were a low-point for Telemaco. By the end of August, Telemaco was again pronounced to be healthy and was sent to Clearwater where he made three starts before the end of the season. With four different minor league teams, Telemaco had impressive numbers (2-1, 1.86) in his seven starts. Spring training 2003 went pretty well for Telemaco, but he admitted at the end of spring that he wasn't ready to pitch in the majors and accepted an assignment to Scranton.

With pitching coach Mike Mason keeping a close eye on the still recovering Telemaco, things started to click. Telemaco was getting his command and velocity back and was pitching inside to hitters, looking better than ever at times. Telemaco did find himself sometimes waiting for his shoulder to hurt again, but as time went by and he felt stronger and stronger, those concerns diminished and Telemaco was suddenly the hottest pitcher on the Red Barons staff that included super prospect Ryan Madson.

Meanwhile, the Phillies didn't face a dire need for another starter at the major league level, so Telemaco just kept pitching away at Scranton. The innings mounted and Telemaco seemed to be getting stronger and stronger. As the All-Star Break hit, the Phillies confidence in Telemaco had grown, but they were still sticking with struggling youngster Brandon Duckworth. Like a veteran who knows the game, Telemaco was patient and simply ran himself out to the mound, making the most of every start. He was sure that he was now ready to pitch in the majors, but his chance hadn't yet come.

Soon, the Duckworth issue hit a boiling point and even his biggest supporters – pitching coach Joe Kerrigan and GM Ed Wade – admitted that perhaps, something had to be done for the good of the team. The decision to send Duckworth to Scranton was made, but just who to recall wasn't a cut and dry decision. Madson was pitching well and the fans clamored to see one of the Phillies top prospects take the fifth spot in the rotation. The decision came down to one question that was posed to the Phillies minor league staff; Which pitcher can come to Philadelphia and help the Phillies right now?

After Wednesday night's game, media guru Larry Shenk assembled the Philadelphia media and announced that Chase Utley was recalled from Scranton and that Duckworth would be optioned out. Taking Duckworth's spot in the rotation would be…Amaury Telemaco. The question was answered.

Much of the decision came down to Telemaco's past major league experience. The Phillies have no doubt that Madson will be a very good major league pitcher, but again, the question contained the phrase ‘right now' and the minor league staff felt – almost unanimously – that the correct answer was Telemaco. After all, he was near dominating. Telemaco was 10-9 with a 3.24 ERA in 24 starts. The big numbers were his three complete games – two of them shutouts – and the fact that he had allowed just 22 walks in 155.1 innings of work. His control was outstanding. He had also struck out 116 hitters, allowing just 125 hits.

Ryan Madson will be in Philadelphia likely in September for at least a look at major league life. It's likely that he'll step into the rotation for the 2004 season and have a great major league career ahead of him. But again, right now, Amaury Telemaco is the choice for the Phillies and both they and the St.Louis Cardinals will find out if they were right. Telemaco is back, the results are still waiting to be deciphered, but he's got the chance that he wanted. Right now, he knows that he's ready.

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