Worley's second-half struggles continue in loss

Worley's second-half struggles continue in loss

Worley's second-half struggles continue in loss
MILWAUKEE -- Charlie Manuel tried to sum up Thursday's loss to the Brewers with three words:

"That's growing pains."

He witnessed more in Friday's 6-2 loss to the Brewers at Miller Park. Milwaukee had runners on first and second with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning when Nyjer Morgan ripped a ball to right-center field. Phillies right fielder Domonic Brown pursued, but the ball hit off the end of his glove as he awkwardly slammed into the wall. Both runners scored, Morgan cruised into third for a triple and right-hander Vance Worley continued a grueling 44-pitch inning that resulted in two more runs scoring.

Brown and Worley commiserated with each other in the clubhouse afterward with Worley finally tapping Brown's leg -- the sign everything is cool between them -- before he got up from his chair to meet reporters.

"We're all just trying to grind and make the best of the little bit of season we have left," Worley said.

"I got back there good. I just dropped it," Brown said. "I wanted to come up big right there for Vance. That's what I was talking to him about. That play has to be made. It's as simple as that. Me and Vance, we've been playing together since the Minor Leagues. We've got a little bond going. I want to come up big for my teammates right there."

Brown has handled himself fairly well in the outfield since he joined the Phillies on July 31, but he made his first glaring mistake at a critical moment of the game Friday.

That's growing pains.

"He's going to make some mistakes," Manuel said. "That's all part of him getting his game together, too. We knew that. He's getting better. I see where he's getting better."

The Phillies hope the more Brown plays the better he gets in the outfield. He seems to have improved since he played with Philadelphia last season, but the club would like to see even more improvement before he becomes an everyday player next season.

The Phils essentially have said he will get that opportunity. Brown is hitting .255 (14-for-55) with three doubles and four RBIs in 16 games. He has not been hitting for much power, but Manuel also believes that will come in time.

"You've got to have patience with him," Manuel said. "When he's working on staying in good and hitting the ball up the middle ... he's got to play long enough to get comfortable. He's got to play until he's convinced himself he can take off. That's how I look at it. He's kind of feeling his way right now. I think he's going to hit. I've said that all along."

Worley allowed seven hits, four runs, three walks and struck out three in 4 2/3 innings. The line is deceptive because Brown should have caught that ball that led to the four runs in the fourth. But Worley did not limit the damage, either. He allowed a hit to pitcher Yovani Gallardo to allow the third and fourth runs of the inning to score. Ryan Howard had put Philadelphia ahead in the top of the inning with an RBI double.

Worley, who is pitching with a bone chip in his right elbow, has not pitched more than 5 1/3 innings in four of his last five starts.

The Phillies have said Worley's bone chip is not related to his struggles, although it is fair to ask because he has a 5.35 ERA in seven starts since the All-Star break. But if Worley's elbow is not affecting him on the mound, then it also is fair to ask if teams have made adjustments to him.

"Things just aren't going my way," Worley said. "Everything feels good. Velocity is there. The ball is breaking like I want it to break. I'm just not catching the breaks. Last year I got myself into trouble, but I got out of it. Why? I don't know. The hits they're getting off me are pitches I'm missing with."

It could be growing pains for a pitcher with just 44 starts under his belt. He said it's definitely not his health.

"Everybody seems to be talking about health, it's not a big deal," Worley said. "The arm feels good. It hasn't bothered me. My inflammation is gone."

So the talk that Worley should be shut down the remainder of the season?

"Quit crying," he said. "It is what it is. My arm is healthy enough to be out there pitching. That's what everybody thinks the problem is: my arm is hurt. I'm just not locating when I need to get the outs. That's why I'm getting hurt. It's definitely not a health problem."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.