PITTSBURGH — When his teammates finally headed north, Vance Worley was relegated to another day in Florida. Worley had to do his throwing, and it wasn't going to be in Philadelphia against the Pirates, a team he'd face six days later when it really counted.
Thus, Worley pitched in a simulated game against Phillies farmhands. He threw more breaking balls, specifically change-ups. The minor leaguers were fooled. Worley was happy.
"Hopefully," he said, "it's something I can transfer to big-league hitters."
So begins the sophomore season for the 24-year-old Worley. He relied on deception in taking the National League by surprise in 2011. On Sunday, he isn't expecting to implement a great deal of change, but there will be wrinkles.
Start with the change-up, a pitch that could be vitally important to his 2012 success. He threw it about eight percent of the time in 2011, but ideally, that rate doubles this season. The reason? It looks like the devastating sinker he throws, only slower.
It's a pitch Worley fooled with during spring training, trying new grips and approaches. Ultimately, he's back to the same one he used before.
"It's a pitch I threw last year," Worley said. "And when I threw it, I had success with it. We just didn't throw it that much."
He's pleased with the way it feels right now.
"It's coming out more consistent," Worley said. "Better velocity on it. Better rotation. It's got sink."
Calling the pitches Sunday will be Brian Schneider, the man who caught Worley's final 12 starts in 2011. But Charlie Manuel refuted the idea of Schneider and Worley being permanently paired.
"He's not going to be his personal catcher," Manuel said. "I don't even like to hear that. I've never, ever done that. I don't believe in that."
Worley and Schneider have both said their relationship helped breed success. But it could be tougher this season for Manuel to remove Carlos Ruiz's bat from his lineup.
"I've heard people say they like the catcher," Manuel said. "Lose some games and see what happens."
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