Pirates notebook: Worley to take Liriano's spot in rotation Sunday
MIAMI — Vance Worley will start Sunday's game at Miami for the Pirates, filling in for the injured Francisco Liriano. The Pirates hope the right-hander can be another successful reclamation projection and provide pitching depth as the Pirates attempt to weather injuries to their starting rotation.
Worley posted a 3-2 record with a 4.30 ERA at Triple-A Indianapolis, but his underlying stats suggest he has been better as he has produced a sparkling 43-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 46 innings.
The Pirates are hoping Worley returns to being the effective mid-rotation starter he was in Philadelphia in 2011-12 when he produced a 17-12 record and a 3.60 ERA over 264 2⁄3 innings.
Worley suffered a dramatic decline in value last year.
He was traded to the Minnesota Twins for outfielder Ben Revere in December 2012 and was named the Twins' Opening Day starter. After he produced a 7.21 ERA and a 1-5 record in 10 starts, he was acquired by the Pirates for cash considerations in late March.
“He's a guy we've liked,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “We've actually seen this guy a couple springs ago (pitch) very well. ... The fastball command has been better. The changeup has been a go-to pitch.”
Worley said he was not healthy to begin 2013 after having bone chips removed from his elbow at the end of the 2012 season and then dealing with biceps tendonitis in spring training. He was surprised the Twins wanted him to lead their rotation.
“My arm is definitely back, just all around,” Worley said. “The velocity is back, the movement is back on everything.”
Worley also has credited his improvement to working with Pirates pitching guru Jim Benedict on fixing some mechanical flaws.
The Pirates hope they have unearthed another bargain like they did with A.J. Burnett and Liriano.
Said Worley: “I'm looking forward to getting my feet wet again.”
Plan for Cole revealed
Gerrit Cole (shoulder fatigue) could join the rotation soon after he is eligible to come off the disabled list Thursday, Hurdle said.
Cole is scheduled to throw a full bullpen session Sunday. If that goes well, Hurdle said the next step would be a simulated game Wednesday. After that, Cole could rejoin the rotation on the next road trip, which features trips to Chicago and Tampa Bay.
“He's in a good place,” Hurdle said. “If everything stays the way it is, we could have him back a few days after (June 19).”
Cole passed a number of stress tests to gauge his shoulder strength before returning to throw earlier in the week.
“I feel good,” Cole said Saturday. “I just have to take care of some throwing (Saturday) and see how it goes (Sunday).”
Bucs sign top arms from draft
The Pirates announced the signings of second-round pick Mitch Keller (selected 64th overall) and Comp B pick Trey Supak (73rd overall) on Saturday.
Keller and Supak fit into the club's preference for tall, projectable, high school pitching prospects and both signed bonuses of $1 million, according to Baseball America, above the slot value for their draft positions.
Keller was rated as the 69th-best prospect in the draft according to MLB.com; Supak was 62nd. Both were assigned to the Gulf Coast League. The only player drafted by the Pirates in the top 100 overall that remains unsigned is outfielder Conner Joe.
Josh Harrison (left ankle) returned the starting lineup Saturday, hitting fifth and playing second base. … Gregory Polanco's mother was in attendance for his five-hit night Friday that included his first home run, which was a game-winner.