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Thursday, February 17, 2005
Updated: February 18, 11:20 AM ET
Wells: Maybe I did wear out my welcome

Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. -- After switching sides and joining the Boston Red Sox, David Wells quickly had some choice words for the New York Yankees.

The Boomer reported to spring training on Thursday, saying Alex Rodriguez "has to earn it" and admitting he didn't get along with Yankees manager Joe Torre.

Randy Johnson

David Wells

"Maybe I did wear out my welcome there," Wells said.

At the Yankees' camp, Randy Johnson playfully got into it, too. The Big Unit said he didn't think that merely by signing with the Yankees he'd join A-Rod as a target of the Red Sox and their fans.

"I haven't done anything to them," he said.

Not yet, but his job is to lead the Yankees to their first title since 2000 and deny the Red Sox a second straight World Series championship.

"So they'll be mad at me if I pitch well against them? Bring it on then," he said, laughing.

"So I guess I'm a target, but I'm going to go out there and do the best I can," Johnson said. "I'm not going to be firing quotes and stuff like that to make myself more of a target, that's for sure. I'll leave that to other people that can do that better than I probably could."

As Johnson pitched his first bullpen session at Legends Field, former Arizona teammate Curt Schilling and Wells arrived at Boston's training camp in Fort Myers. Wells, who helped New York win two AL pennants and one World Series, wasn't pleased with some of Rodriguez's remarks.

"I remember reading the press conference or something when he went there," Wells said. "He said: 'When we.' He said a 'we' in his comment about like he's won like three or four rings with them and he hadn't, and that kind of disturbed me.

"He shouldn't put himself in that category," Wells added. "You've got to earn it. It's like he's been there the whole time. But you can't take away what A-Rod has done for the game. He's a great player, and he will continue to be a great player."

As for Torre and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, Wells remembered difficult times.

"I've never had a good relationship with Joe," he said. "We've had a few run-ins and Mel Stottlemyre, as well, and Mel's probably the best pitching coach I probably ever had. But just when you have run-ins like that, it just leaves a sour taste, and who needs it? I can understand their point and, hopefully, they can understand mine. But like I said, there's no hard feelings, one way or another. Life goes on. You move on. Now I'm in a Boston uniform. Now it's my job to go out and prove to myself that I can still pitch at this level and go out there and beat the Yankees."

Wells called New York general manager Cashman after last season:

"I told him if there was any interest I'd love to come back to New York and play, and Brian told me that, 'We'd love to have you but the Boss (George Steinbrenner) is looking in another direction. We're going to go with youth this year.' Then they turn around and sign Randy."

During the offseason, Schilling criticized A-Rod, and earlier this week Red Sox outfielder Trot Nixon said of the former AL MVP: "He can't stand up to (Derek) Jeter in my book or Bernie Williams or (Jorge) Posada."

Schilling on Thursday added: "I'm pretty sure that me not liking Alex Rodriguez is not a groundbreaking story. I'm sure there are a lot of guys in the big leagues (who) don't like each other. The comments came about because of play on the field last year. That's the way I see it. I never really thought it was nearly as big a deal as people have made it. I'm pretty sure Alex could care less whether I like him or not."

Nixon also was irritated by Rodriguez's description of his early morning workouts, saying: "I'm not a deadbeat dad, you clown. That's what I said to myself. What's wrong with me taking my kid to school and then going to work out?"

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein downplayed the comments.

"As a whole our team has been pretty modest in victory and respectful of the opposition, especially the Yankees, and focus on what we're having to do," he said. "If there's anything personal, I'm sure it's just a blip and it will pass. But I know from knowing our guys that they're very, very respectful of the Yankees and what they've accomplished.

"I like the on-field Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. I've never cared much about the off-field stuff."