If, as expected, the Phillies summoned David Buchanan from Triple-A to take the injured Cliff Lee's turn in the rotation tonight against Houston, the IronPigs will need sometime to start the 11:35 a.m. series finale against Durham at Coca-Cola Park.
Buchanan, who returned to Lehigh Valley from the Phillies on July 17 when Lee was brought off the disabled list, is listed as the morning starter.
Before Monday's game with the Bulls, IronPigs manager Dave Brundage wasn't willing to discuss his "contingency plan.
"I'll wait until Philadelphia lets me know [about Buchanan]," Brundage said. "Obviously we always have to make plans because you don't want to get caught with your pants down."
Hector Neris had been the long man out of the bullpen and would've been the most likely candidate to make a spot start, but the right hander was summoned to the Phillies after Saturday's game.
With Aaron Nola's promotion to Reading — he will make his Double-A debut Wednesday against Harrisburg — Chris Bootcheck has been dropped from the Fightin' Phils rotation, and reportedly Bootcheck was removed from Reading's game notes for Monday night's game. That could indicate the 33-year-old veteran could be returning from Double-A, where he is 2-3 with a 6.06 ERA in eight starts. Bootcheck was 2-5 with a 3.85 ERA in eight starts before being sent to Reading in early July.
Buchanan is 6-2 with a 3.95 ERA in 12 starts for the IronPigs and 5-5 with a 4.40 ERA in 10 starts with the big club.
Either way, Brundage was hoping for "seven or eight innings" from Monday's starter Greg Smith to help ease the workload on a "thin" bullpen.
Wednesday's off-day in Toledo (the IronPigs will bus to Ohio immediately after Tuesday's game) will also help the bullpen, Brundage said.
Aumont returns: Reliever Phillippe Aumont, sent down after giving up eight hits and six earned runs in two innings in Washington Saturday, reported to the IronPigs and was in uniform for Saturday's game.
Aumont went up on July 23 when Jeff Manship was designated for assignment, allowed 12 hits and eight runs in four innings over three outings. Overall in five games with the Phillies this year Aumont has a 19.06 ERA (12 earned runs, 15 hits, five walks in 5 2/3 innings).
He is 2-1 with a 3.96 ERA in 29 games for the IronPigs.
"We had a little talk, trying to find out where's the gap, what's the issues … trying to find out why [he] can have success here and can't carry it on to the big leagues," Brundage said.
Aumont is in his fifth year with the Phillies and is out of options. Perhaps, Brundage was asked, the 6-foot-7 Canadian — the last of the three minor leaguers still with the Phillies that came over from Seattle in the second Cliff Lee deal — would benefit from a change of scenery.
"I don't know … you don't give up on arms like that, and it's not my job to sit and say a change of scenery is good for you," Brundage said of the hard-throwing 25-year-old, who he said has shown "glimpses of why he should be in the big leagues.
"We deal with what we have in front of us, and we just have to find an answer," he added. "He's been given a few opportunities and we just need to find some answers and get him going."
Thompson too: Fan favorite Rich Thompson was back at Coca-Cola Park Monday night, receiving a warm welcome when he took the mound to throw out a first pitch.
Thompson, who spent four-plus years with the IronPigs before being traded to Tampa Bay in May 2012 and returning to the majors with the Rays, suffered a career-ending injury with Durham last season. He is now an accountant in the Tampa Bay area.
The 35-year-old, who stopped by en route to visit family in the Scranton area, appeared on last week's episode of "America's Ninja Warriors," a reality show where competitors challenged an obstacle course. Thompson finished 16th out of 100 entrants and missed the opportunity to advance to the finals by one spot.
Gwynn accepts assignment: Tony Gwynn Jr., who was released after being designated for assignment by the Phillies on July 31, has rejoined the organization after signing a minor league contract.
Brundage wasn't sure when Gwynn, who hit .163 in 68 games for the Phillies, would join the club.
"Obviously time will tell, when we get on that bus tomorrow and head for Toledo," Brundage said. "We'll see what transpires from there and what Philadelphia wants to do."
MAG sighting: Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez made an impressive debut with the IronPigs Saturday, allowing one hit in a scoreless inning to record his first Triple-A save.
Gonzalez, a Cuban defector who signed a $12-million major league contract last August, was slowed by shoulder injuries this spring. But he's worked his way up the organization since his debut with Clearwater on May 15, and has a 3.69 ERA in 30 2/3 innings over the three levels, with 36 strikeouts and 16 walks.
In 16.1 innings between Reading and the IronPigs, Gonzalez has a 2.95 ERA (five earned runs, 15 1/3 innings), with 25 strikeouts and seven walks.
"I saw a better pitcher, I saw better stuff than what I saw in spring training," Brundage said of Gonzalez's Triple-A debut. "That's encouraging. Obviously, I read the reports and you see he's been up to 96, 97 mph; the other day he sat around 93, which is encouraging because we didn't see that in spring training. So hopefully we'll see it on a more consistent basis."
Castro's time coming?: While Maikel Franco draws the most attention on the roster, Brundage believes Leandro Castro deserves some consideration as a possible September call-up.
The 25-year-old outfielder is hitting .273 with 58 runs scored 25 doubles, six homers, 44 RBIs, a .320 on-base percentage and a .716 OPS.
"I like what Castro's done; I like how he's developed into a pretty good ballplayer," Brundage said.
Franco, with hits in his first two at-bats is now hitting .339 (37-for-109) with 26 RBIs since June 1, a span of 28 games. Franco came into Monday's game hitting .240 with 25 doubles, nine homers and 54 RBIs in 109 games. Many fans hope the Phillies give the corner infielder a long, hard look in September.
"I have a hard time believing that he's going to sit on the bench if he goes, but at the same time, there's also experiences that he can gain from that as well," Brundage said.