Late in spring training, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin asked Jesen Therrien to sign a baseball for him.
Now the young reliever would really like to make his mark.
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Therrien, a 24-year-old righy, went 0-0 with a 1.57 ERA in 18 games for the IronPigs after going 2-1 with a 1.26 ERA in 21 for Double A Reading. He was 2 for 2 in save opportunities at Lehigh Valley and 7 for 8 at Reading.
"I'm anxious to see Therrien," Mackanin said before Friday's game against Atlanta. "I heard a lot of good things about him. We saw him in the spring, and I liked what I saw."
While in Clearwater, Mackanin sought that autograph from Therrien, a Montreal native, because Mackanin's wife, Nancy, is also French-Canadian.
"I was pretty excited when it happened," Therrien said. "I was like ‘Damn, I probably did a good job.'"
He did make an impression on Mackanin, because of his slider – a pitch he refined with the help of 2003 Cy Young Award-winner Eric Gagne, a fellow Canadian with whom he has worked the last three offseasons – and his demeanor.
"He didn't show any fear when he pitched," Mackanin said. "Even in spring training, he came in and threw strikes. He pitched like he belonged, which is important."
Therrien, the Phillies' 17th-round draft pick in 2011, struggled with his control as a starter in the low minors, but has blossomed as a reliever. This year, he had 65 strikeouts and nine walks in 57 1/3 innings at his two minor-league stops.
"For me, this year was just pounding the strike zone," he said. "That's what happened to me. It helps me a lot. I threw my secondary pitches for strikes. Things are good."
He had a simple explanation for his mindset on the mound.
"At every level, the thing in my mind was to pitch like I was facing big leaguers," he said.
And while there had been talk of a call-up to the big club for weeks, Therrien said he was more concerned with the task at hand – that he had a one-pitch-at-a-time mentality.
The majors? He claims that's something he has only allowed himself to think about each offseason.
"After every year, the goal of every professional baseball player is to be in the major leagues," he said. "Now that I'm here, I want to try to make the best out of it."
And, perhaps, really make his mark in Philadelphia.