Except . . .
Except this time, everything was different. This time, the parting words were neither remedial nor consolatory. This time, there was no, "Work on this" or "Show us that" or "You never know when we might call on you again." They told him he was part of their plan. They told him when his next start would occur. Simply put, they told him he was a major leaguer.
Vance Worley is the No. 4 starter on the team with the best record in baseball, the Phillies said last night. That they announced it via a demotion to Triple A is just the way this crazy sport works at times.
Take last night at Sun Life Stadium. A team that entered the season with a rotation six-deep and a lineup stocked with former All-Stars and MVPs eked out a victory on the backs of five players with less than one season of major league service. Leading the charge was Worley, who allowed just two walks and two singles while striking out six in seven scoreless innings. He looked nothing like the pitcher who earned his previous demotion after allowing eight runs in three innings of a loss to the Mets on May 29. He established all of his pitches early, locating his fastball on both sides of the plate while using his changeup and curveball to prompt anxious foul balls beaten to the left of third base.
"Super," was the word manager Charlie Manuel used to describe the performance.
The only inning Worley worked with a lead was his last one. Rookie rightfielder Domonic Brown led off the seventh with a single through the right side of the infield, then moved to second on a walk by Brian Schneider. That brought to the plate Michael Martinez, the seldom-used Rule 5 draft pick with 13 big-league starts to his name. Martinez, who was starting in place of a banged-up Shane Victorino, laced a single that fellow centerfielder Bryan Petersen fielded on the hop. Brown rounded third as Juan Samuel windmilled his arm. Petersen launched a strong throw to the plate. Brown hit the dirt, John Buck twisted his body, and umpire Kerwin Danley waved him safe. Replays suggested that Brown's right foot may have floated over home plate as Buck applied the tag, but both the rookie and Manuel said later they thought he was safe for sure.
"I'm not sure if he tagged me or not," Brown said. "Everything was going so quick. I know I got in there."
Worley finished the seventh with a 1-0 lead, then turned things over to the two young relievers who have stabilized the Phillies' injury-wracked bullpen. First came Michael Stutes, who had started the season in Triple A with Worley. The 24-year-old retired all three batters he faced, striking out Greg Dobbs to end the eighth. Then came Antonio Bastardo, who entered the season without a big-league save. The 25-year-old lefty issued a one-out walk, but struck out Hanley Ramirez and coaxed Logan Morrison into a game-ending fly-out for his fifth save of the season.
"I think we're all just coming up trying to make a name for ourselves and competing the same way we were coming up," said Worley who is 4-1 with a 2.20 ERA in eight starts and two relief appearances.
Worley is the only one headed back to Lehigh Valley, where he will start on Saturday instead of finishing the first half in the bullpen. The important thing is that the Phillies, who are hesitant to make a concrete statement about any event less certain than the sun rising, told him that he would be back. In less than 2 weeks. Against the Mets.
In four starts since rejoining the rotation, Worley has allowed two runs in 25 innings. He will return to Lehigh Valley for one start before rejoining the Phillies when they open the second half in New York. The Phillies will call up a player today, likely John Mayberry Jr. to add depth in centerfield.
"He understood," Manuel said of Worley.
Righthander Joe Blanton, sidelined until at least late-July with elbow soreness, threw a bullpen session yesterday in Clearwater, Fla. *
For more Phillies coverage and opinion, read David Murphy's blog, High Cheese, at www.philly.com/HighCheese. Follow him on Twitter at