*Ed is in Clearwater this week covering the Phillies’ spring
training for Metro. Shoot us a line if there are any topics or
questions you want answered. Today, he caught up with ‘The Vanimal.’
Vance Worley feels good during the early days of spring training. Last season’s rookie phenom can control his fastball, changeup and just about everything — everything except his hair.
“I had my hair all grown out and I had to shave it to look like this,” Worley said while pointing to his latest Mohawk. “The fans were like, ‘C’mon Vance, we want the Mohawk back.’”
Worley, 24, is all about giving the Phillies faithful what they want, whether it’s an edgy look on and off the mound or wins.
The quirky right-hander challenged for the NL Rookie of the Year award last season with an impressive 11-3 record and 3.01 ERA.
“The hair is fun for the fans, but it doesn’t mean anything unless I produce,” Worley said. “That’s the bottom line, especially in a city like Philadelphia.”
The expectations are much higher for Worley than they were at this time last year. Twelve months ago, Worley was just hoping to make the team. These days, ‘Vanimal’ is penciled in to start behind the Phillies’ vaunted troika of aces Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.
“I don’t feel the pressure now,” Worley said. “I actually felt the pressure last season. I feel more calm. I know what my role is. Last spring training, I didn’t know if I would be in triple-A or make the team.
“And when I did get called up, I didn’t know whether I would start, setup or do middle relief. Last spring training I overthrew my breaking ball, I would throw breaking balls too hard. I was developing my changeup last March. This year, I just want to build on what I did last year. It’s that simple.”
It’ll be curious to see if Worley is a one-year wonder, like past Phillies rookies Marty Bystrom or Bob Walk, or if the kid with California cool is the genuine article.
“I know that there are guys who had good rookie seasons and you never heard from them again,” Worley said. “I worked hard during the offseason to have a good season. I’m confident that I can do the job. The reason I’m confident is that I did the job last season. There’s no reason to think I can’t do it.”
It’s a huge bonus for Worley to be in the same clubhouse as the aces.
“It’s great,” Worley said. “Talk about being around guys that know how to pitch and have achieved great things. I can talk to them about stuff, and it’s just great to sit back and watch what they do. They set the best example possible. I take what I learn from them and everything I’ve experienced to the mound. I want to do the best job that I can.”