Pirates designate pitcher Vance Worley for assignment to make room for reliever Joe Blanton



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CINCINNATI — Vance Worley was excited when he found out that former teammate Joe Blanton would be joining the Pittsburgh Pirates' bullpen. He was surprised at what came next.

The Pirates designated Worley for assignment on Thursday to open a roster spot for Blanton, who will essentially move into his role. Pittsburgh acquired Blanton from Kansas City for $150,000 early Thursday.

Trades in July make for some unusual and uncomfortable moments.

"When I saw we picked him up, I was excited," Worley said, before leaving the visitors' clubhouse at Great American Ball Park. "He's an old teammate of mine. I was pumped up when we picked him up. Unfortunately, I was the one out."

Worley was moved into the bullpen this season after spending his career as a starter. He went 4-5 overall with a 3.78 ERA in eight starts and a dozen relief appearances, struggling in the transition to reliever.

"There's days it was good and days it was just OK and days where it was bad," he said. "It's one of those jobs where you don't know how many innings you're going to go, not sure what inning you're going to go in if you get in, and you've got to try to find a way to stay in a groove.

"Hopefully I can be a starter somewhere."

The Pirates are trying to trade him to a team that needs a starter. If that falls through, he could accept a demotion to the minors.

Blanton joined the team in time for the opener of a four-game series against the Cincinnati Reds. He was designated for assignment on Tuesday when Johnny Cueto joined the Royals. Kansas City traded three minor league pitchers to the Reds for Cueto on Sunday.

The 34-year-old Blanton was 2-2 with a 3.89 ERA in four starts and 11 relief appearances. The Pirates preferred him over Worley because he's got more experience in the role.

"He's pitched in all situations you can ask a man to pitch in," manager Clint Hurdle said.

Blanton is accustomed to having a role that fluctuates.

"It's kind of similar to what I'd been doing over there," Blanton said. "A little bit of everything, whenever."

Blanton got to move from one playoff contender to another. The Royals lead the AL Central. The Pirates are second to St. Louis in the NL Central, but first in line for a wild card berth.

"Usually it doesn't happen that way," Blanton said. "You go from out (of contention) to in, and sometimes you go from in to out. But I think that it's very fortunate for me to go from in contention to in contention."

Blanton retired before last season, but got an urge to make a comeback after working out with former Pirates starter Zach Duke in the past offseason.

"I said, 'Maybe I'll just give it another whirl and see what happens,' and here I am," Blanton said.


Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay

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