Pitchers take spotlight in Bucs' 'B' game vs. Twins

Righty Worley impressive in 2-1 victory

Pitchers take spotlight in Bucs' 'B' game vs. Twins

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Vance Worley was efficiently dominant in Monday morning's "B" game at Pirate City. He'd be looking good in the competition for a spot in the Bucs' starting rotation -- if such competition existed.

It doesn't, not in the right-hander's mind. Either he or Jeff Locke figure to end up as the fifth starter. Doesn't mean they're competing with each other, however.

"Jeff and I are good. We're there to pick each other up. One of us winds up in the bullpen, that's fine -- we're both here to help the Pirates win," Worley said after starting the 2-1 victory over the Twins in a six-inning game.

That echoed Locke's sentiments after he'd put up two zeros Friday night in Tampa, Fla., against the Yankees. Worley hung three zeros on the Twins.

Or was it 3 2/3 zeros? Worley needed only 30 pitches to get nine outs, and that wasn't going to accomplish the day's goal of stretching out. So his final inning went on for two more outs -- and even after that, Worley ducked into the bullpen to make 15 more pitches.

Some other "A" list players appeared in the "B" game.

Jose Tabata doubled for the first run and scored on Willy Garcia's double. Corey Hart, recovered from a three-stitch cut on the outside of his left foot, saw his first game action as the DH and was hitless in three at-bats.

But the Bucs like to arrange these "B" games mainly for the pitchers' benefits, and they were in the spotlight. Following Worley, Mark Melancon worked a perfect, 14-pitch inning with two strikeouts, and lefty Clayton Richard looked sharp for two innings around a homer by Jorge Polanco.

"That's what Spring Training is for, to get more and more innings," Worley said. "Overall, I felt good. Filled up the [strike] zone, mixed in some cutters and curves. Got my pitches in and will be ready for four [innings] or more next time out."

He wasn't egged on by his first sighting of the Minnesota uniform he wore a year ago, until the Twins sold him to Pittsburgh on March 25.

"If it wasn't for the Twins, I wouldn't be here," said Worley. "They could have sent me to Triple-A, and I'd be out of sight. Instead, they made it possible for me to come here. As a result, I'm in a lot better place."

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.