WASHINGTON - The message to Vance Worley delivered by Charlie Manuel and Rich Dubee in the visiting manager's office at Nationals Park was clear.
"We'll see you shortly," Worley recalled them saying. "You're a part of this team. You'll be back."
But as of Tuesday, Worley was headed for triple-A Lehigh Valley, optioned to the minors after Monday's 5-4 Phillies win over the Nationals.
After two impressive starts earlier this season, Worley was moved to the bullpen and served as a setup man when Joe Blanton returned to the rotation. Worley went 20 days without throwing more than three innings in a game, and that lack of work has showed in his two most recent outings.
Since replacing Blanton in the starting rotation for a second time, Worley has pitched a total of eight innings, allowing 11 runs (eight earned) on 18 hits and four walks.
He needs work, and the Phillies would rather that come in the minors.
"We want him to start pitching and get back to where he was when he was throwing the ball real good," Manuel said. "He'll be in a regular turn, get stretched out, and get his pitch count built up."
Conditioning was a hindrance in the past for Worley, and it's what held him back from being a prospect until early last season. He said he was tired in the third inning of his start May 24 against Cincinnati and then could not pitch beyond the third inning against the Mets on Sunday.
"There's things I need to work on anyway," Worley said. "It's been a work in progress. I'm fine with it. I know what I need to do. I'll be back in a start or two."
As for how the Phillies will fill Worley's spot on the roster and in the rotation, there are some unknowns. The team will announce a corresponding roster move Tuesday. Assistant general manager Scott Proefrock would not say definitively if a pitcher would be added. If it is a pitcher, the candidates are Scott Mathieson or Mike Zagurski. David Herndon cannot yet return because he was optioned less than 10 days ago.
The Phillies can skip Worley's spot in the rotation because of an off day Thursday. The rest of the rotation would still start on regular rest. A fifth starter would not be needed until June 8.
The other scenario is to start Kyle Kendrick Saturday against Pittsburgh in place of Worley.
In the bottom of the ninth, Wilson Valdez - not Chase Utley - emerged from the dugout to play second base. It was a one-run game, and Utley had tested his right knee extensively Monday by stealing a base and going from first to third on a single, but there is no need to worry, Manuel said.
"I just took him out," Manuel said. "I just wanted to get him out of the game. If I do that during the season, I give him some rest. Nothing serious."
It was another sign of how serious Manuel and Utley are in adhering to a plan that calls for regular rest.
"It wasn't strange," Utley said. "I've come out of plenty of games before. Of course it was hard, but everything is going fine. Charlie and I discussed prior to me playing that there would be situations like that."
Utley is hitting .208 (4 for 24) after a week's worth of games.
Both teams wore stars-and-stripes themed caps for the Memorial Day holiday. They will be worn again on July 4 and Sept. 11. . . . Shane Victorino (right hamstring) will play in his third rehab game Tuesday at double-A Reading. He will play three games for Reading and likely be activated Friday. . . . Brad Lidge (rotator cuff) is scheduled for his second appearance in extended spring training Tuesday.