FORT MYERS, FLA. – He’s already known as the Vanimal. Maybe he’s part Incredible Hulk, too.
Vance Worley gave up three hits and a run in each of the first two innings of the Twins’ 8-7 loss to Puerto Rico on Wednesday, and it had a noticeable effect on him.
He got mad.
Worley didn’t exactly rip off his jersey and turn green, but his effectiveness — and velocity — grew as his temper did.
“I finally got tired of giving up little bleeders and broken-bat hits, and I figured the only way to beat them was throwing hard to try to beat their swing,” said Worley, who is working his was back from surgery to remove bone chips.
Manager Ron Gardenhire likes the angry Worley, if it means he’s a better pitcher. “When he got mad, he actually let it fly, and we saw the velocity jump up there [to] 93, 94 [mph],” Gardenhire said. “That’s probably a good thing. Now he realizes he can do that and let it go.”
Worley pitched 3⅓ innings and retired seven of the final nine hitters he faced, striking out three. The Twins took a 5-2 lead while he was on the mound, in part because of another strong showing by Aaron Hicks, who homered, walked and singled in his three plate appearances, scoring twice.
But Jared Burton gave up a two-run homer to Pedro Valdes, and Alex Burnett gave up three runs on five hits and two walks in just 1⅓ innings, helping Team Puerto Rico — which opens World Baseball Classic play Friday in San Juan against Spain — rally for the exhibition victory.
Wilkin Ramirez also homered for the Twins, lining a ball into a stiff wind blowing in from left field.