PITTSBURGH -- Vance Worley spends these days as a bullpen prisoner, a victim of the Pirates' staff-wide excellence. In the first two weeks of June, he threw one pitch, that being tucked into Turner Field's right-field corner for a walk-off home run. So his days at the park are frustrating, angst-filled.
Then he goes home to hear his wife, Maricel, fill him in on Kai's latest breakthrough, and the next morning awakens to his senses being stirred by his 8-month-old son: sound, sight, feel and occasionally, yes, even smell. And it's all good.
"It's been a blessing," Worley said of fatherhood, which has anchored his life and is providing balance to his profession. "When you get to be around your family, you can check out of your ballplayer mindset, get away from the game. You're reminded of the important things in life."
Kai Anacleto Vivas Worley was born on Oct. 22.
"We used to go to Hawaii after the season, but we couldn't last year because he was being born, so instead of going to Hawaii we brought Hawaii to us," said Worley, explaining the florid name.
The professional and personal lives of athletes are often portrayed as divergent, and Worley can attest. A year ago, he was a core member of the Bucs' starting rotation, and away from the yard, it was chaos. He "lived" alone in a hotel across the street from PNC Park, and often commuted to Philadelphia, where the couple had met, to be with Maricel.
Now that his role on the team is unstable, he, Maricel and Kai have the stability of a Pittsburgh house.
"So we have everything we need to make ourselves at home," said Worley, who isn't there nearly as much as he'd like. It's the lot not only of athletes, but of anyone whose career follows a roadmap. "I'm not around as much to see him grow up. There's a lot of stuff I'm missing out on.
"On the road, I'll wake up to text messages from Maricel about what Kai has been up to. He started crawling about three weeks ago, and now he's at the stage where he's trying to stand up, and he'll get frustrated. He'll be on his hands and knees, start to rise and then get wobbly."
Worley's parents visited recently and "my dad got him to stand up, holding onto the table, and you could see the excitement on Kai's face, as well as on my dad's."
Fathers pass on a lot to sons, and the link does not skip generations.
"I hear that from my wife a lot." Worley said. "She's always saying about something, 'Oh, gosh, you're so much like your dad when you do that.'"
The inheritances include genes so, like father, Kai is already a stocky handfull. It is giving Worley another good reason to eagerly look forward to something all fathers do, not just those who play ball for a living: a little game of catch.
"I'm ready to run around with Kai, rather than carry him around," Worley said, grinning broadly. "He's getting heavy."