Stottlemyre says Wells should be in better shape

David Wells is out of shape. That's news? No, but it is news that Yankees pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre is publicly questioning Wells' conditioning and work habits.

After Wells was pounded for 10 runs on Wednesday night, Stottlemyre said Wells is not working hard enough to keep himself fit. He said he would talk to the left-hander on Thursday.

"I think this time of the year he gets into his 'save the bullets' routine," Stottlemyre told the New York Daily News after Wells absorbed an 11-2 loss to the White Sox. "He needs to do more work. ... He's been playing catch, but he needs more mound work. ... He's not in as good a shape as he was earlier in the year."

Wells has been solid this season (12-5, 4.37 ERA), but has just one victory since the All-Star break and is 0-2 in his last six starts.

He has been bothered by a bad back, but by all accounts it was not a factor this time. He didn't speak to reporters after the game.

"If he's not healthy, I don't know that," Yankees catcher Jorge Posada said. "He says he's OK. I had a problem with the pitches. The location was not there. You try to go into the game with a good game plan. I thought we had a good game plan, it's just not happening."

"If he has a bad back and it's bothering him, (then) for the sake of the ballclub he should say so," Stottlemyre told The Daily News.

Wells did undergo major back surgery just two years ago.

The 40-year-old Wells has skipped throwing on the side in the past, Stottlemyre told the newspaper, and when it has worked, Stottlemyre has remained silent. But the pitching coach said he could not remain quiet after Wells' worst outing of the season on Wednesday.

Wells missed a start two weeks ago because of his back problems. However, in his next start he lasted seven innings, giving up four runs and 10 hits and declaring himself healthy.

Stottlemyre wouldn't tell The Daily News when Wells stopped throwing between starts, but indicated it may have been as early as July after a start in Boston.

Wells' recent slump has manager Joe Torre concerned. The Yankees expect to have Mike Mussina, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Wells in the postseason rotation.

"We're well aware that we have a couple of starters that are 40-years old," Torre told The Daily News.

The Yankees' other 40-year-old starter -- Clemens -- was also shelled by the White Sox in his last start (on Tuesday night).

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.