Workhorse Wells receives a day off
Slugger had played in all 55 games prior to Thursday
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays wrapped up their series with the Angels on Thursday at Rogers Centre, and for the first time in 2009, center fielder Vernon Wells was nowhere to be found in Toronto's lineup.
Catcher Rod Barajas and third baseman Scott Rolen were also not in the lineup on Thursday, as is generally the case with day games after night games. They both get regular rest, since Barajas is a catcher and Rolen has been bothered by shoulder problems since 2005.
But other than one game in April in which he was the designated hitter, Wells had patrolled center field in every one of the Jays' 55 contests this season. Going into Thursday, he was tied with Toronto second baseman Aaron Hill and shortstop Marco Scutaro for the most games played by an American League player this year.
Manager Cito Gaston said all three of his workhorses may need some more rest as the season goes on.
"Just a day off," Gaston said of his decision to give Wells a breather. "I probably have to do more of that, too. Like Scutaro, [Wells] hasn't really had a day off. Aaron's had one that he DH'd, but Vernon, it's just a day off."
The one-game hiatus follows a rough patch in which Wells went 1-for-18.
"It seemed to help [Alex] Rios over in Baltimore," Gaston said. "Hopefully, it's going to help [Wells], too."
Earlier in the season, Gaston said he didn't think it was helpful to rest struggling players for a day, saying "you don't swing sitting" when it was asked whether he would consider benching struggling rookie Travis Snider. Gaston may have changed his tune, though, after right fielder Rios heated up following a day off.
Before Rios was given the day off in Baltimore on May 26, he was hitting .244 with a .378 slugging percentage in his previous 11 games. Since then, he was batting .375 going into Thursday's game, with a .792 slugging percentage and two home runs.
Hill and Scutaro have been outstanding for the Jays all year, but have struggled in recent days. Entering Thursday, Hill followed an impressive 13-game hitting streak with an 0-for-15 stretch, and Scutaro was 1-for-10.
Gaston said he may give Hill and Scutaro a day off this weekend, when the Royals visit Toronto for a three-game series.
"Those guys can't play every day," Gaston said, "so I'm just going to have to suck it up and do it."
Erika Gilbert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.