Jays shutting down Wells
Instead of waiting, slugger to have surgery next week
NEW YORK -- Vernon Wells has played with a left shoulder injury all season, but the Blue Jays have decided enough is enough. Toronto is shutting its center fielder down for the remainder of the year, opting to have Wells undergo surgery on his ailing arm next week.
"His shoulder is acting up a little bit more than it did earlier on," Blue Jays president and CEO Paul Godfrey said on Thursday. "He's been attempting to play through it, but we feel it's in his long-term best interest to go and have it looked after."
Next on Wells' itinerary is a trip to Birmingham, Ala., where he's scheduled to meet with renowned arm specialist Dr. James Andrews on Monday. Godfrey said that Wells would then have the operation to remove a cyst and repair a torn labrum on Tuesday.
Originally, the plan was to have Wells undergo the procedure at the end of the season, but Godfrey said Andrews' availability at the beginning of next week helped convince the club to tweak the schedule. The injury is not considered serious and Wells is expected to be healthy by Spring Training.
"I don't think whether he waited a week or not was a deciding factor, as far as recovery time to get ready for spring," Godfrey said. "One main factor was that Dr. Andrews, who has been a very busy guy, has the opportunity of looking after it at the beginning of the week."
The injury dates back to May of last season, when Wells missed the first of two games with a sore left shoulder. He played through the rest of the 2006 campaign with some discomfort, but the injury wasn't deemed major enough to deter the Jays from signing Wells to a seven-year contract extension worth $126 million over the winter.
Wells preferred not to make the injury public this season, but hitting coach Mickey Brantley volunteered the information on Aug. 21, during Toronto's road trip in Oakland. Brantley cited the issue when asked about Wells' subpar performance at the plate this year.
Through 149 games, Wells hit .245 with 16 home runs and 80 RBIs, which is a significant drop-off from last season, when he batted .303 with 32 homers and a team-high 106 RBIs. Wells, 28, only recently admitted that the injury was causing some minor discomfort during his swings, forcing him to make constant adjustments.
On Thursday, the Blue Jays were traveling to New York, where they'll open a four-game series with the Yankees on Friday night. Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi, who was in transit with the team, was not immediately available for comment.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.