It started out as a good day for Vance Worley. The Vanimal was headed to Citizens Bank Park in early December to continue rehabbing his right elbow. After his weight-training session, he would pick up the engagement ring for his girlfriend, Maricel Vivas, who was born and bred in Roxborough, where her family still lives.
But a funny thing happened to Worley during his workout.
“I noticed my phone was blowing up,” Worley said while calling from his Sacramento home. “I thought, ‘Who is trying to call me?’ I saw that Ruben Amaro left me a voicemail and I thought, ‘This isn’t good.’”
Worley called back Amaro and the Phils GM informed him that he had been traded to the Minnesota Twins.
“I was totally caught off guard,” Worley said. “He said, ‘Do you have any questions?’ I didn’t say anything since I’m a professional, but I’m baffled. I’m one of the few guys who enjoys playing in the city of Philadelphia. I love the city, the people, everything about it. I love how intense the fans are there. I love the pressure and the atmosphere. I love the ballpark. I love it so much that I’m marrying a Philadelphia girl.”
Worley and his fiancé had no inkling that relocation was in their future. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have just signed a one-year lease on a house in suburban Philly.
“I talked to the guy, who knows what I do and the situation,” Worley said. “He’s a doctor. He said, ‘I can put the house back on the market but if no one takes it, you have to pay for the remainder.’ I thought, ‘Are you serious?’”
Such is life in the majors. Worley scratches his head over his trade for Ben Revere.
“I know him from the minor leagues,” Worley said. “I wish him well. The Phillies have a young Juan Pierre. But I just have one question, did he play much center last year?”
Revere played enough to impress. He had the third-best range in baseball, according to sabremetric guru Bill James (B.J. Upton was 29th).
Worley isn’t looking forward to the cold, but he is excited about getting out on the mound with his new team.
“We have some young talent and some very good veterans with the Twins,” Worley said. “I’m excited about being part of a team that has Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Josh Willingham. I’m also looking forward to pitching in a park that’s much bigger than Citizens Bank Park.”
But if Worley had any say, he would have stayed put. The trade still stings so bad that he can’t work out in the offseason in his old gear.
“I can’t even look at red spikes,” Worley said. “I have all of this red and blue and I can’t wear it. I have to get some black and navy blue to work out in.”
Worley — laidback off the field, but an animated, emotional character between the lines — quickly became one of the most popular Phillies during his 2011 season, in which he finished 11-3. Since he’s tied to Philly due to his fiancé, he’s been in town, particularly Roxborough (“It’s so small but with so many people,” Worley said. “It’s an unusual place”) for much of the last month. Fans have let him know that he’ll be missed.
“I still get recognized in Philly and people have come up and told me how upset they are over the deal,” Worley said. “That’s nice to know but that’s the way it goes.”
Worley learned a great deal starting on a dream staff that included Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt.
“That was absolutely surreal,” Worley said. “Roy Halladay talked to me about having a short memory when things go wrong and Cole, who I was closest to, probably since we’re the closest in age, taught me his cutter when we were in Hawaii during the offseason. I can’t wait to use that this year.”
Earlier this week, Shane Victorino said that it’s not out of the realm that he’ll wear the red and white pinstripes again, perhaps Worley will one day come back.
“That’s what Ruben said,” Worley said “He said, ‘Who knows, maybe you’ll return.”
But for now Worley is gone and he clearly misses the town where he established himself.
“I’ll be leaving Philadelphia but, with my girlfriend, I’ll be bringing a piece of Philadelphia to Minnesota,” Worley said.