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Long road back worth it for Mathieson

Published April 17. 2010 09:00AM

The long road back is never the easiest and always the road less traveled.

For Scott Mathieson, the journey was a long road of rehab where he was told that he may never play baseball again. He had to overcome setback after setback to finally step back on the mound.

"I am happy to be back, especially after the last [surgery] I was told I wouldn't be able to come back and to prove them wrong," Mathieson said.

The IronPig was one of the Phillies most promising right handers in the Phillies system in 2006. After starting the season at Reading, he was called up to the Philadelphia and started eight games that season.

Although his ERA was 7.47, it seemed as if his career was on his way.

In a September start against the Braves, he left his final start after just six pitches. A little more than three weeks later he had his first Tommy John Surgery.

Since then, he had an ulnar nerve transposition surgery and a second Tommy John surgery that signalled to some that his career was over.

"At first it was tough. I had to take it one day at a time," Mathieson said. "It wasn't fun at the time.

He was not alone in his daily workouts. Spending most of the year in Clearwater, Florida, he met up with other Phillies like fellow IronPig Mike Zagurski and did everything they could to keep their mind of things. From having barbeques off the field to doing everything they could to make mood during workouts light was all they could do.

"It kept us sane." Mathieson said. "That helped a lot."

Last season, he returned to the mound for the first time since 2006. He appeared in 22 games and in his final 13 at Reading, he allowed only three earned runs in 19 innings.

"I feel confident throwing all three pitches, fastball, slider, change-up," Mathieson said. "I feel pretty much back to where I was."

In Spring Training, the Phillies considered Mathieson for a roster spot, but sent him to Lehigh Valley instead. Now, as a reliever, he gets another chance to prove himself on the mound and play the game he loves.

"It's fun again," Mathieson said. "I love playing baseball and doing what I've always loved doing."

Pig-lets: In last night's game, the IronPigs and the Rochester Red Wings had the third and final game of their series suspended due to rain. They will pick up the game with Andy Tracy on first with two outs in the bottom of the second inning when the two resume play on June 29. The game will start at 6:05 with the regularly scheduled game to follow ... Phillies reliever J.C. Romero was able to make a rehab appearance to start the game before the rains arrived. He surrendered just one hit in his scoreless inning. "I was pleased, but I am still in spring training mode," Romero said. "I don't throw hard or the speed I am accustomed to until June. We're moving in the right direction." He made one mistake to Rochester's lead off hitter Brian Dinkleman who laced a 2-strike double to left center. "The reaction of the hitter (to my slider) tells me I have life in my fast ball." Romero said after sitting down the next three batters. With his fastball hitting 87-89 mph, the lefty is returning from off-season elbow surgery and is expected to work out of the bullpen on Sunday. "My arm strength isn't where I want it to be yet," Romero said. "I just want be ready so that when they activate me I will be ready to go everyday." ... Today, the Syracuse Chiefs arrive for the first of a four games series. Lehigh Valley's Andrew Carpenter (0-1, 13.50) will face Luis Atilano (1-0, 1.80). First pitch: 6:35.

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