Wells knows honesty is best policy
Center fielder keeping Jays manager updated on his health
DETROIT -- Vernon Wells is learning how to swallow his pride some. Fresh off the disabled list, the Blue Jays center fielder has convinced himself that honesty truly is the best policy when it comes to his daily status.
When Cito Gaston asks Wells how he's feeling, the center fielder plans on being upfront with Toronto's manager. Still, Wells is quick to admit that it can be difficult to push aside his competitive side, if being honest means less playing time in the field.
"It can be," Wells said. "But, at the same time, I don't really want to go back on the DL. I need to be honest with myself and honest with him. He makes it easy. From the get-go, he said, 'Just let me know how you feel and be honest with me and we'll go from there.'"
On Wednesday, Gaston left Wells in the starting lineup, but penciled him in as Toronto's designated hitter. It's one way to keep Wells playing, but also a move that can provide some rest for the outfielder's recovering right hamstring, which he strained while stealing third base on July 9.
For now, Gaston and Wells agree that the DH spot is an ideal way to use Wells on days when the Jays are facing a left-handed starter, considering those are games the left-handed-hitting Matt Stairs typically remains on the bench. Detroit lefty Kenny Rogers was on the mound on Wednesday.
"It seems like against lefties, it's a better situation to DH, since Stairs is our normal DH," Wells said. "I'll just DH on those days. It's kind of like a day off, but not really. It just kind of gives the legs a break, trying to get back, instead of overworking them and trying to do too much."
Wells was activated from the 15-day DL on Sunday and was used as the DH against Cleveland left-hander Cliff Lee. On Monday and Tuesday, when the Jays faced right-handed starters in Detroit, Wells patrolled center field, where he's scheduled to start again during Thursday's finale against the Tigers.
The main hurdle Wells is trying to overcome right now is being able to run at full strength. Right now, he said that he's focusing on his stride on the basepaths, making sure he doesn't push himself too hard. The last thing Wells wants is to aggravate an injury that already cost him a month on the shelf.
"I'm just conscious of trying to just run smoother -- just try not to overstride," Wells said. "You get into trouble running-wise when you start trying to run as hard as you can, because you start overstriding and your form is bad. You put yourself in risk of re-injuring something."
Wells described this season, which has included two month-long stints on the DL, as a "learning experience" -- one he doesn't care to experience again any time soon. The center fielder -- in the first season under the seven-year, $126 million extension he signed two winters ago -- also fractured his left wrist during a diving play on May 9.
Even with the injuries, Wells has remained one of the top offensive performers for the Jays, batting .289 with nine homers and 45 RBIs through 67 games. Between the two setbacks, though, Wells has missed 52 of Toronto's games this season -- this after dealing with a left shoulder issue a year ago.
"That's a lot of baseball to miss out on," Wells said. "Both injuries are kind of freakish injuries in what I did and how I did them. Hopefully, this is the last [season] I have with injuries like that."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.