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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Bob Ayrault made bigs over 2 seasons with Phillies, Mariners

Bob Ayrault 1990 Reading Phillies card
When a teammate at AA Reading made the jump to the majors in 1990 Bob Ayrault was asked what the difference in caliber of play was between the two levels. He didn't look at them as much different, according to The Reading Eagle.

"They're both one step from Triple-A," Ayrault told The Eagle. "Up there (in the bigs) there's consistancy, but there's not that much difference. They're up there because they get the job done.

"I think I might be able to do the same thing," Ayrault continued about the jump. "If I play my cards right, my time will come. And I will be ready for it.

Ayrault's time came two years later, called up by the Phillies for the first of two seasons in the majors. Ayrault made the majors three years after being signed by the Phillies as a free agent in 1989.

Ayrault spent 1989 largely at single-A Reno, putting up a 7-4 record with a 3.78 ERA. It was enough for Phillies brass to notice.

"Our pitching in particular came along pretty well," Phillies player development director Del Unser told Knight-Ridder Newspapers in October 1989. "Chuck Malone and Bob Ayrault in particular stood out."

Ayrault made AA Reading for 1990, getting 10 saves and putting up an ERA of 2.30. Ayrault then got a look in a late spring training game in 1991.

He set down the side in order, striking out two, The Reading Eagle wrote.

"They told me this morning that I was coming here to throw," Ayrault told The Eagle, "and it was instant shakes right there."

Ayrault spent that year at AAA Scranton. By May, Ayrault was being pointed to by Scranton manager Bill Dancy as the bright spot in the Red Barons pen. The bullpen had to shut the door, Dancy told The Eagle, "and it can't constantly be Bobby Ayrault, either."

By June 1992, Ayrault was in Philadelphia, his first turn on the mound coming against St. Louis. The score tied, Ayrault got the first two hitters out. Then he gave up a broken-bat double, then a walk and he was gone. "I was a little nervous there," Ayrault told The Allentown Morning Call.

Ayrault pitched in 30 games for the Phillies that year. He got his first win in a September relief outing. His ERA on the year was 3.12.

He returned to Philadelphia for 1993, but in 10 outings, Ayrault's ERA expanded over 9. A May outing was called a disaster in a wire account, as he gave up five runs on five hits to the Giants.

Picked up by Seattle in June, Ayrault pitched in 14 more contests. His ERA in those games was a respectable 3.20, but they were his final games in the majors.

Ayrault played five games in 1994 with the Marlins system at Edmonton. He then played six games at AAA Calgary. Two more years in independent ball and Ayrault's playing days were done.

These days, Ayrault is back in his native Nevada, coaching youth baseball.
Originally published Sept. 9, 2010

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