Friday, August 12, 2011
Vernon Wells and the site of his former glory
By Mark Saxon
Vernon Wells is a .286 hitter with a .506 slugging percentage at Toronto’s Rogers Centre. He’s a .213 hitter with a .330 slugging percentage at Angel Stadium. So, maybe this weekend’s series north of the border is just what the Angels left fielder needs to get going heading into a crucial four-game series against first-place Texas that starts Monday.
But there’s another possibility. Wells might be overcome with emotion, considering he spent his entire career with the Blue Jays organization before the Angels traded for him in January.
I talked to Wells about the trip back to his former in-season home – he recently sold his house in suburban Toronto – and what he could reasonably expect. You could tell he had already been thinking about it well before the Angels got on a plane for New York.
“That’s a good question. I don’t see it being too emotional, but I’m sure once you get in that situation everything changes,” Wells said. “I just hope it’s business as usual and I can go out and play, but this is the first time and obviously it’s a place I’ve spent my whole career in. It’ll be an intense moment that first day.”
The Blue Jays have scheduled a media conference with Wells for this afternoon.
As divorces go, this was as amicable as they come. The Angels felt they needed to upgrade their offense and their outfield defense, so they took on the contract few other teams would have touched and traded Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera to the Blue Jays for Wells. They’ve gotten the solid defense in left field, but he’s batting just .208 with a .241 on-base percentage. One area of his game has lived up to expectations, his 16 home runs, but nearly all of them came before the All-Star break.
Under general manager Alex Anthopoulos, the Blue Jays have embarked on what looks like a promising rebuilding campaign. Wells thinks that eventually it will pay off, even in a division ruled by big-spending teams from New York and Boston.
“That’s my personal opinion,” Wells said. “Obviously, the Yankees and Red Sox are going to spend money, but the Blue Jays are getting younger and those two teams are getting older and eventually it’ll happen. Hopefully, they don’t get there before we do.”