Vance Worley looking for fresh start with Orioles

The Vanimal is looking for a rotation spot this spring.

New Orioles right-hander Vance Worley arrived in Baltimore this month for his introduction to a new organization, meeting new teammates and interacting with fans at this month’s FanFest at the Baltimore Convention Center.

The Orioles, who claimed Worley off waivers Oct. 20, will be the 28-year-old’s fourth organization in five seasons. Even though he arrived in Baltimore not knowing any of his new teammates, he heard the Orioles' reputation for a good clubhouse atmosphere.

“I heard they have a really good clubhouse and a really good atmosphere and that’s the chemistry you need for winning, so I’m looking forward to coming over and being a part of it," he said. "… Just looking for a fresh start and looking forward to coming over and helping this team out.”

Worley was 4-6 with a 4.02 ERA in 71 2/3 innings last season with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He opened the year in the starting rotation when Charlie Morton went on the disabled list, and was pushed to the bullpen upon Morton’s return in mid-May after seven starts. He pitched to a 3.00 ERA and held opponents to a .232 batting average over his next 13 appearances, mostly in relief, before he was designated for assignment in late July and outrighted to Triple-A. Worley returned to the Pirates when rosters expanded in September.

Heading into this season, Worley is looking to return to the starting rotation.

“That’s what my plan is,” he said. “We’ve just got to see how things go this spring and see how things play out. … I know this team can play some defense and that’s going to play into how I pitch. I’m not a strikeout guy. I’m not overpowering. I rely on my defense to play behind me.”

Worley saw most of his big league success in the National League with the Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies. He struggled in his only previous time in the American League. He went 1-5 with a 7.21 ERA in 10 starts with the Minnesota Twins in 2013 before he was demoted to Triple-A.

“It’s definitely a little different,” Worley said. “Obviously you’ve got the eight hitters versus nine. For me, it’s still about making your pitches. As long as you’re keeping guys off balance, you’re going to have success.”

Worley brings an interesting nickname, “The Vanimal,” a name that stuck with him since his early days at Long Beach State.

“I got it my freshman year,”  Worley said. “We had weights at 5 o’clock in the morning and I was one of the few to actually show up and lift instead of just kind of hide in the shadows. I was just looking to get bigger and better and stronger and eventually it was our strength coach who said, ‘The Vanimal is in here.’ And I was like, ‘Why are you calling me a Vanimal?’ He’s like, ‘You’re an animal, and Vance goes together.’

“So I just kind of ran with it and it’s kind of followed me here. I’m OK with that nickname if you guys want to call me that. I don’t care. I’m fine with it.”

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