A Rookie's Journey
Leaving Citizens Bank Park on Monday night was a very long journey. Returning to Philadelphia on Wednesday afternoon was much quicker.
Scott Mathieson, a 22-year-old pitcher, made the journey this week. He and his Reading Phillies teammates beat Altoona, 5-4, in 10 innings at Citizens Bank Park on Monday evening.
Next game? Tuesday. Where? Erie, about as far diagonally from Philadelphia as one can travel in Pennsylvania.
“Yeah, it was a long bus ride, nearly eight hours,” said Mathieson this morning while pulling on his batting practice jersey in the Phillies clubhouse. “We got to the hotel a little after 6:30 a.m. I went straight to bed and slept most of the day.”
We’ve heard of jet lag. Is there such a thing as bus lag? Apparently not. All Reading did was pound 20 hits in a 17-3 romp over Erie.
Yesterday, Mathieson got up and lifted weights in the Avalon Hotel. His next start would be Friday night in Altoona. “I got back to my room around 11 when Files (Tom Filer, pitching coach) and Mo (John Morris, acting manager) called. They wanted to stop by the room to see me. They walked in and said, ‘Congratulations, you’re going to the big leagues.’ I almost fell off my bed. This has been my goal my entire life.”
Mathieson was a spectator at Citizens Bank Park for the season opener back on April 3. “My car was shipped with all the players’ cars from spring training to here and I had to pick it up. I didn’t have a seat, but stood behind home plate and watched about half of the game before heading for Reading.”
The Erie to Philadelphia trip was a 1-hour, 12-minute plane ride. “I was told to go to the hotel, watch the game and relax.”
This morning, he arrived at the Citizens Bank Park clubhouse at 8:15. “I couldn’t wait.”
Scott’s girlfriend Jennifer Jenkins and her family from Clearwater, FL, will be in the stands on Saturday night and hopefully so will his family from Canada. “Dad’s working on it. Everyone is so excited.”
Somewhere, Tim Kissner is sharing the excitement. Kissner is a Phillies scout, one of the unheralded men of baseball who spend hours looking for future big league players.
Mathieson’s personnel file contains contract information and the complete scouting reports filed by Kissner and other Phillies personnel who followed the right-hander from Vancouver, Canada, in 2002.
Kissner’s May 4, 2002, report: “Great projectable body with very good strength and growth potential. Good arm speed. Throws with a good downhill plane. Has gotten better through the year. Shows feel for curve ball and change. Has huge upside to ability.”
The Phillies chose Mathieson in the 17th round that June, the 509th overall selection in the draft.
Mathieson has been in the stands at Citizens Bank Park, sat in the third base dugout (Reading Phillies) and the first base dugout (big league Phillies). The next step: standing on the mound on Saturday night. That’s really a long journey from Vancouver.