The Vance Worley the Phillies fell in love with during his first nine big-league appearances has resurfaced in his last two starts with triple-A Lehigh Valley, allowing just five hits in 13 scoreless innings for the IronPigs.
That probably will be enough to get Worley back to the big leagues for a start next Saturday, when the Phillies play an interleague game against the Mariners in Seattle.
When we last saw Worley, he had encountered the first turbulence of his big-league career. After a brief stint in the bullpen, Worley lost his command in one start against Cincinnati and his velocity in his next start against the New York Mets. Some people also thought he might have lost his mind after his start against the Reds because he talked about being tired in the third inning of that start.
In retrospect, Worley regrets those words.
"After I said it, I said: 'I [messed] that up, didn't I?' " Worley said after he pitched seven shutout innings Wednesday night in Lehigh Valley's victory over Durham at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown. "At the same time, you can't take it back."
Worley said he had a discussion with manager Charlie Manuel the day after his remarks about being tired.
"He said, 'Make sure you word it differently from now on,' " Worley said. "I got roughed up my next outing [in New York], so I guess the baseball gods got me."
Worley did not change his story about being tired against the Reds, but he said his problems in his two starts against the Reds and Mets went deeper than that.
"I'm in better shape now," he said. "Everything is different in the bullpen. As a starter, I'm running my butt off. As a bullpen guy, I'm running four sprints. For me to go back out there and try to throw six innings after running four sprints, it's not easy. Everybody just expects that top level - snap your fingers and he's a god again.
"Mechanically, I was kind of screwed up, too. Rod Nichols [the Lehigh Valley pitching coach] pointed it out and said I was dipping my back shoulder, and it was making it hard for me to get back across to the other side of the plate. I couldn't locate."
There should be no question about Worley's condition after his seven shutout innings Wednesday. He threw 106 pitches, walked two, and struck out six in 96-degree heat. His fastball was clocked as high as 93 m.p.h. and averaged 91 m.p.h. Opponents have hit just .114 against him in his two minor-league starts since being demoted.
Neither Manuel nor pitching coach Rich Dubee would say Worley would soon rejoin the starting rotation. Dubee, however, said the team made a mistake by sending Worley to the bullpen instead of keeping him stretched out in the minor leagues.
"We kind of screwed it up putting him in the bullpen," Dubee said. "He lost his edge, and now he's getting his regular reps again. He was conditioned as a starter all spring training and then all of a sudden he sat around. His arm didn't respond to it."
Righthander Joe Blanton returned to Philadelphia for a doctor's appointment after a two-week stay in Clearwater, Fla., where he ran and lifted weights to stay in shape. Blanton, who has not picked up a ball in three weeks because of elbow inflammation, was hoping to be cleared to begin a throwing program. . . . Roy Halladay will start Friday against the Cubs and is winless in three career games against Chicago. The Cubs are one of three teams Halladay has never beaten. The others are the Phillies and the Giants.