PAWTUCKET, RI- Phillies minor league hurler Scott Mathieson has dealt with a lot of obstacles in his career. Since being drafted by the Phillies in the 17th round in 2002, he has found himself on the operating table three times, all for elbow surgery.
The Vancouver, BC native made his Major League debut as a starting pitcher in June of 2006. However, by September of that season, Mathieson was sidelined with a torn elbow ligament and required Tommy John surgery. As he rehabbed the following year, it was discovered that Mathieson had lingering issues that would force him to undergo an ulnar nerve transposition procedure. Bouncing back from that surgery proved difficult in 2008, when Mathieson was forced to have a second Tommy John surgery.
Prior to the surgical procedures, Mathieson had pitched mainly as a starter. However, since returning from that third stint on the disabled list, the 6’3″, 220-pounder has pitched exclusively in relief, working his way back up through the Phils’ developmental system.
In 22 combined games at three levels in 2009, Mathieson posted a 4-0 record with a 0.84 ERA and a .149 batting average against. Last year, Mathieson served as the closer for Triple A Lehigh Valley, recording 26 saves to go along with a 2.80 ERA.
This year, Mathieson began the season with Lehigh Valley, but has appeared in 2 games with the Major League club, tossing three scoreless innings.
But for Mathieson, the switch back to starter is a welcome challenge.
“I really liked closing last year and pitching out of the bullpen, but I believe I can still start and be a starter at the big league level,” Mathieson said.
The switch is not just a spot start, brought on by the organization’s recent roster moves. While there is a need, Mathieson is a strong individual that should adapt going forward.
“This isn’t just a (spot) start. I’m in the rotation now,” Mathieson said.
Making his first start since the 2007 season, Mathieson says he expects to be good for 60-70 pitches on Sunday — when he faces the Pawtucket Red Sox at McCoy Stadium — and is looking forward to stretching himself out over the outings to follow.
“I’m going to try to work my pitch count up to at least 100 in my next 2 or 3 starts. I’m excited for (the challenge).”
Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league insider. You can check out more content from Jay by visiting his site, PhoulBallz.com.