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Rain Postpones 31-Year-Old’s MLB Debut

September 6, 2006

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Brian Mazone bounced around from the independent leagues to the minor leagues, waiting and hoping for an opportunity to pitch in the majors.

The Philadelphia Phillies were finally ready to give him a chance, only to have bad weather alter those plans.

Mazone, a 31-year-old left-hander, was to make his big league debut on Wednesday against the Houston Astros. However, rain postponed Tuesday night’s game between the Phillies and Astros.

It has been rescheduled for Sept. 25. So, Randy Wolf, who was to start Tuesday night, will take the mound on Wednesday against Andy Pettitte.

Meanwhile, Mazone repacked his bags and headed to Rochester, N.Y., to pitch for Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre in a playoff game Wednesday.

``It hurts. Obviously, it’s disappointing,″ Mazone said. ``But from where I came from to be in this position, getting sent back is one of the easiest things to overcome.″

Mazone’s wife already drove from Rochester to Philadelphia with the couple’s two children, and family and friends were expected to fly in from San Diego to see him pitch. Mazone hopes they can reuse those tickets later this month.

``It’s out of my control,″ he said. ``Hopefully, I’ll be back after (Scranton’s) playoffs.″

Mazone was 13-3 with a 2.03 ERA in 20 starts for the Red Barons this season. He went 1-3 with a 2.39 ERA in six starts at Double-A Reading.

Originally signed by Atlanta in 1998 as an undrafted free agent, Mazone was released by the Braves after going 1-6 with a 5.53 ERA in 20 games for Eugene in the rookie league.

Mazone spent the next 4 1/2 seasons pitching for two independent league teams before the San Francisco Giants signed him in 2004. He pitched in seven games at Double-A Norwich and two games for Triple-A Fresno that year, and spent all of last season at Norwich.

Last May, Mazone was among 11 players given 15-game suspensions for violating baseball’s minor league steroids policy. He finished 11-8 with a 3.10 ERA at Norwich and signed with the Phillies in November.

``It’s unfortunate for him the weather didn’t cooperate,″ Phillies assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. ``It’s been a long road for him. He handled it very professionally.″

The Phillies needed Mazone because their staff was depleted after playing consecutive doubleheaders against Atlanta over the weekend. They dropped two games behind NL wild card-leading San Diego.

While Mazone headed back to the minors, catcher Tim Gradoville was called up because Mike Lieberthal is likely to miss at least one week with back spasms. Gradoville hit .261 in 35 games at Reading.

Lieberthal hurt his back during the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader against Atlanta. Amaro called the spasms ``pretty severe.″

Mazone would have been the second player in his 30s to make his major league debut with the Phillies this year. Catcher Chris Coste, 33, came up earlier this season and is hitting .331 with five homers and 22 RBIs.

The Astros would’ve preferred to play a doubleheader Wednesday rather than return to Philadelphia on an off day the final week of the season.

Manager Phil Garner said pitcher Roger Clemens should make his scheduled start Saturday, despite leaving Monday’s game after five innings because of a strained right groin.

``I think he’s doing fine,″ Garner said.

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