Now that we’ve had a day to absorb the news of the Twins trading Ben Revere to Philadelphia, it’s time for us to get to know our newest member of the Twins MLB family, Vance Worley… aka “Vanimal.”
In an effort to do a little advance scouting on behalf of the Twins fanbase, I did a little Vanimal hunting on the internet. I have to say, so far I’ve liked what I’ve found.
All of the initial reports provided the basics. He had a great rookie year in 2011 as a 23-year-old, during which he finished 3rd in National League Rookie of the Year balloting, but his sophomore year in 2012 was a bit bumpy and ended with some “clean up” surgery on his pitching elbow in September. He’s back to throwing now and is expected to be ready to roll in time for Spring Training.
You can read all about Worley’s pitching record any number of places (though you might want to start with Parker Hageman’s excellent break down of Worley by clicking here). We’ll strive to bring you more here at Knuckleballs.
The Asian-American pitcher (his mother is Chinese) apparently had the “Vanimal” moniker bestowed upon him by a weightlifting coach in the weight room during his freshman year at Long Beach State University (or Cal State Long Beach, if you prefer). I guess Worley must have hit the weights pretty hard, because the nickname has stuck.
Here’s something else you should know… Vanimal has a reputation for having some swagger. We’ll definitely know when Worley is on the mound. The distinctive Oakley goggles are one clue and he’s got a bit of a strut coming off the mound after a strikeout. And then, of course, there’s the mohawk haircut (though word has it he may be tiring of that trademark hairstyle and might just let his hair grow long… so we have that to look forward to).
He also talks to himself on the mound… and parents of small children might want to be prepared to answer some awkward, “what did he say, daddy?” questions from the young fans in the family. It’s not personal, just all about self-motivation, but lipreading could be entertaining this season.
Like most professional athletes, Worley values his privacy away from the workplace. Don’t hassle him if you see him at a movie theater and if you happen to discover where he gets his haircut, don’t Tweet it to everyone in cyberspace. That kinda thing ticks him off. But on the job, he has a reputation for being friendly and accessible to fans and media (and even to the occasional blogger). While he wasn’t a fan of any particular MLB team while growing up in Northern California, he has grown in to a hobby of sorts that he shares with many fans… he collects autographed baseballs from many of his peers in the game.
I’m looking forward to getting to know Worley better next season. He’s got personality and, frankly, that’s something I’ve thought the Twins clubhouse could use a bit more of lately. I’m not sure how the largely staid local fanbase will react to the Vanimal persona, but I suspect a lot of that will be determined by how well he gets… what do they call them?… oh yeah… outs.
If you’d like to read more about our newest Twins pitcher, I suggest clicking here. He granted weekly access to Ed Condran, a columnist/blogger for www.metro.us, an online news publication. Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer also wrote a couple of interesting background pieces on Worley during his rookie campaign in 2011, which can be found here and here.