CLEARWATER, Fla. Vance Worley fielded the bunt to the right of the mound, looked at first base and decided to let the Yankees Doug Bernier take it. After all, it was a Grapefruit League game and Worley had some work to do.
So with Bernier at first base with no outs in the fifth inning, Worley fired a changeup from the stretch and got just what he wanted a 6-4-3 double play. Two outs.
But it wasnt so much the result as it was the execution. Indeed, Worley was pleased to get two outs on one pitch, but he was more excited that he threw a changeup to get the double play. See, this spring Worley has taken on the task of adding a secondary pitch to his repertoire and that change piece is the one hes been working on.
However, according to Worley, the pitch gave him fits during the 5-3 defeat to the Yankees at Bright House Field on Friday afternoon (see box score). Though he pitched solidly by getting six strikeouts with just one walk in six innings in the game, Worley was touched up for three runs before he even recorded an out.
I thought I made good pitches, but they just put the bat on the ball, Worley said. I made good pitches and they made good swings.
Were any of those good pitches his new changeup? Try again...
Yeah, they sucked, he said.
I threw a couple every inning and I got one double-play ball. Other than that it didnt do much for me.
Worley gave up seven hits in his outing, but only three of them after the getting his first out of the game. He also threw 84 pitches (50 strikes) and will likely get two more exhibition starts before taking the ball for real in Pittsburgh on April 8.
Thats two more chances to work on a pitch that he hopes will be a big piece of his arsenal during the season.
It is frustrating to go out there and keep throwing it and not getting any results from it, Worley said. But its just like anything you learn as a kidin order to learn how to throw a secondary pitch, you just have to keep on working on it.
But therein lays the allure of spring training for some. Worley got a chance to experiment with his new pitch and even went so far as to play around with different grips of the pitch. Usually the second-year righty throws a circle-change, which is the new traditional grip for the changeup. However, he also threw a split-finger change to a few hitters on Friday. According to Worley and pitching coach Rich Dubee, that non-traditional grip is going to be retired following Fridays game.
Hell probably go back to his old grip, Dubee explained. The experiment was to try and find something better. You always want to up the bar.
Still, it is a testament to how far Worley has advanced since elbowing his way into a spot in the rotation last season. Because he is not fighting for a job and will take the ball in the Phillies third game of the season (see story), Worley has the luxury of treating his spring outings as a laboratory. Worley can go out there and give up three runs on four hits before recording an out and hes still going to make the team. Certainly that prospect gives the pitcher a chance to relax and exhale when he goes about his tinkering.
Thats exactly how Im looking at it, he said. They want me to develop another pitch and now is the time to do it. I cant just expect to show up during the season and pull it out of my pocket and have it.
I have to keep throwing it and hopefully it will come around.
Practice, as they say, makes perfect.
E-mail John Finger at email@example.com.