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Vance Worley’s toughest opponent: His own sweat?

Big League Stew

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Vance Worley: The Sweating Man. (AP)

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Thomas Edison famously said that "Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration."

Well, if Edison sweated as much as Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Vance Worley, he would have beaten Alexander Graham Bell to the inventing the telephone, too.

Worley is, as Phillies broadcaster Chris Wheeler has awkwardly said, "a sweater." Worse yet, his propensity to perspire is messing with his development.

"I sweat a lot," Worley said Sunday at Phillies camp. "I do as much as I can to keep my hand dry — rosin bags — but ... genetics, man. You can't beat 'em. My dad [Scott Worley], I thank him every day for that."

Worley might find it ironic (or at least coincidental) that "Vance" means "marshland" in old English. He was destined to be waterlogged!

Worley was laughing as he bemoaned his sweaty genes, but he would like to continue or improve upon his rookie season of 2011, when he finished third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting by posting a 3.01 ERA and an 11-3 won-loss record in 21 starts. Even as he was dominating, Worley worried about what would happen once the rest of the league caught on to his sinker. He didn't experiment much with a change-up last season — the Phillies didn't want to mess with what was working — but Worley isn't waiting any longer to expand his repertoire.

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Windshield wipers could counteract sweat beading on Worley's goggles. (AP)

"I need to develop a change-up this spring so I can have it ready for this season," Worley said. "The whole league knows I throw a sinker now, and my cutter is OK; it can be good at times. But definitely I need a third pitch."

The problem with throwing a change-up, Worley said, is that it's a "feel pitch." Starting with a good grip is essential. Teammates Roy Halladay and Kyle Kendrick throw effective change-ups using a similar grip, and Worley said they are teaching him.

Ideally, a change-up comes in 8-10 mph slower than a fastball, but the pitcher's delivery fools the batter into thinking the pitch is faster. Worley's change is more like 6 mph slower.

"That's a B.P. fastball, and that one gets hit," Worley said.

So far, the tutoring has gone well. Except for the human humidity.

"It's a good pitch but ... I don't know if it's going to be real good with my grip," Worley said.

Try not to sweat it too much, Vance.

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