PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – One of the pleasant surprises this Phillies season has been the emergence of rookie right-hander Michael Stutes (pictured) in the bullpen.  While many times, rookie arms on good teams are relegated to mop-up duty, Stutes has stepped right in to get key 7th and 8th inning outs for the Phils since being called up from AAA in late April.  The Oregon native is taking his success in stride:

“I’m getting there.  No one just comes up and feels comfortable right away.  I’m working towards feeling fully comfortable and last outing I felt about as comfortable as I think its possible to feel in that situation so, I’ll just try to keep it going.”

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Listen to Matt Leon’s interview with Michael Stutes…

In that last outing, Stutes struck out the side in the 8th inning of what was, at the time, a 3-3 game against the Reds on Wednesday.  It was an impressive performance in a key spot that eventually was relegated to footnote duty by what was to follow with the Phillies winning that historic 5-4, 19-inning affair behind INF/RP Wilson Valdez.

Stutes was an 11th round pick of the Phillies in 2008 out of Oregon State and it didn’t take long for him to announce his presence in the organization with authority.  After signing in ’08, he went 7-2 at two levels of A-ball with a 1.42 ERA and even more impressive 0.933 WHIP.  He’s moved up the ladder steadily since and talks about adjusting to the game at the Major League level:

“You can’t really make any mistakes.  I feel like every time that I miss, on  a pitch, you pay for it.  And that’s something, as you move up levels, every level you get away with less and less and less and less.  And then here you don’t get away with a whole lot.  That’s the biggest adjustment, if anything.  No matter if its a 7-1 game or a 4-4 game or whatever the situation is, those hitters are getting paid to and every pitch you need to be on top of your game and making a good pitch.”

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Stutes has made a lot of good pitches so far this season.  In 9 2/3 innings, he has allowed just 6 hits and 5 walks with a dozen strikeouts, while furnishing a 1.86 ERA and showing off explosive “stuff”.  It was pitching like this in spring training that first opened the eyes of Phillies fans to the young right-hander’s potential.  He says his spring training work was really key to his development:

“It meant a lot.  It was my first real extended look at Major League hitters.  In previous spring trainings, I had pitched an inning here, an inning there, had a very limited look at the good hitters.  So it was good to get consistent innings and be able to go out there every third or fourth day or whatever and go out there and face guys like Justin Morneau, Jim Thome and David Ortiz.  It was a really good experience.”

Phillies fans hope it was the first of many good experiences he has in a Fightins’ uniform.

Reported by Matt Leon, KYW Newsradio 1060

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