Vance Worley is unlike most professional athletes. Anyone who recalls Metro’s "Worley’s World" blog, from the 2011-12 seasons may recall how outspoken the Vanimal was back when he was part of the Phillies rotation.
The charismatic hurler waxed about his favorite cheesesteaks, being hassled by overzealous fans (i.e. those in the sports memorabilia business) and how much he loved playing at Citizens Bank Park.
After tanking with the Minnesota Twins after being traded by Ruben Amaro for Ben Revere, Worley has resurfaced with Pittsburgh, where he has posted a 6-4 record with a 3.05 ERA.
Worley waxes about his Phillies past, Philadelphia present and what he hopes for in the future during an exclusive chat.
How big is it to return to start against the Phillies?
It’s real big. It’s where it all started for me. I enjoyed my time playing with the Phillies. I met my wife in Philadelphia and it’s still home for us. I’ve spent a lot of time there with her side of the family. It wasn’t easy living in Philadelphia.
Literally, if recollection is correct, you couldn’t get out of your lease to your South Jersey home
No, I couldn’t.
Did you ever get rid of it?
Yes, I passed it on to (Phillippe) Aumont. The guy, who wouldn’t let me out of the lease was a doctor. I couldn’t believe it but Aumont bailed me out of that situation.
After you were traded from the Phillies, you told Metro that Ruben Amaro said if he had the chance, that perhaps he would reacquire you at some point, correct?
Yeah, he said that when he told me that I was traded to Minnesota. You definitely recall correctly.
The Phillies had the chance but didn’t act on it.
They had a chance to get me back but they chose to pass on me. Maybe it had something to do with the lack of success I had in Minnesota. Maybe they thought I was done.
How do you think Phillies fans will react when you return to Citizens Bank Park?
I think it’ll be alright. The only negative I had when I was there was when I pitched when I was hurt.
And when you pitched after getting hit with the stomach flu a half hour before making a start against Atlanta.
That was a bad day, man. Somehow I got through that.
Phillies fans loved the fire and emotion. You used to yell at the opposing dugout. You hurled expletives along with fastballs at your adversaries. Who else does that?
(laughs) It’s all about going out and competing. Some guys keep that fire with them and I have it.
What did you think about the report in which someone from the Phillies organization allegedly stated that you’ll revert back to what you did in Minnesota.
I heard that and it definitely fuels me. I’m pumped up about pitching in Philadelphia again.
You told Metro after you were traded that you were the one of the few guys in the Phillies clubhouse that loved everything about playing in Philadelphia.
I loved every bit of playing there. The fans are great and so is the city. I loved it enough to marry a girl from Philadelphia and that’s where we spent our offseason. Last winter was brutal. I heard this winter will be as bad or worse. I’m trying to convince my wife to move down to our place in Florida. But we’re going to be in Philly for awhile. That’s where we’ll be when we have our baby.
When is the baby due?
After the season. We planned it that way.
Is it a boy or girl?
I’m keeping that a surprise for now. I’ll let you know during the playoffs.
Who had the biggest impact on you when you were with the Phillies?
Probably Roy Halladay. He had such an amazing work ethic.
He also asked you about your memory. You told him you had a good memory. He said, ‘forget about your memory,’ when it comes to pitching.
That was pretty funny. He was a great influence.
He also experienced what you went through when he was demoted to the minors early in his career.
I can definitely relate. Last spring I was removed from the Twins roster and nobody claimed me. They asked in AAA if I would be a setup guy and I said, ‘sure.’ Then I ended up with the Pirates and they turned me back into a starter.
How similar is the Pirates clubhouse to the Phillies circa 2011?
It’s very similar. Look around here. It’s a great group of guys, who expect to win every game just like 2011.
Do you keep in touch with many Phillies.
Not so much. When they played here (in July) I reminisced with some of the guys and talked to some of the coaches.
Are you still buying and selling car parts on Ebay and Craigslist?
Yeah, when I have the time. It’s a hobby.
Does anybody you’ve dealt with know you’re a major leaguer?
I don’t have to worry about that right now. If things get better, maybe I’ll do deals and wear glasses, a mustache and a big nose.
What is the biggest bonus about returning to Philly?
I’ll be able to sleep in my own bed. That will be awesome. But I will be so pumped up to pitch. I better pitch well. I’ll have all of my wife’s family and friends there. It’ll be like when I pitched in San Francisco (since Worley is from Sacramento) with the Phillies and so many members of my family came down. I’m excited. I’m going back home with my team, which I hope will make the playoffs. I remember what it was like in September playing in Philadelphia when we were making a run for the playoffs. I’ll be playing for the playoffs in Philadelphia with only a few games to go but I’ll be with the Pirates this time. I hope we keep playing until late October.