Wells not pestering Doc about trade rumors
Jays' center fielder on road to recovery following wrist surgery
TORONTO -- Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells has not called Roy Halladay to talk about the possibility that the ace pitcher might be traded this winter. Wells knows that Halladay had enough of that topic during July and the offseason is a time to get away from distraction as much as possible.
When Toronto fielded offers for Halladay leading up to the July 31 Trade Deadline, the situation quickly became a media circus. New Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has tried to keep any and all trade discussions under wraps this winter, and it has been an approach that Wells knows Halladay probably appreciates.
"It turned into a zoo last year," Wells said in a wide-ranging phone interview on Friday. "When that kind of name is out there, that's what's going to happen. There are so many organizations that would love for Doc to be on their team and leading their rotation. I think everyone learned a lot from it last year. So far, it's not as much of a circus, because it's not in your face every day since [it's the] offseason.
"Obviously, if something doesn't get done, I think Doc has kind of made it clear that he doesn't want to deal with it during the season. Alex is going to do his best to respect kind of what the players want and, at the same time, try to look out for the organization."
Beyond how Anthopoulos has handled the Halladay situation to this point, Wells has liked what he has seen from the rookie GM. The center fielder has talked to Anthopoulos and kept an eye on what the general manager has been saying to the media this winter, and Wells believes the future of the organization is in good hands.
"I think he's learned a lot over the last couple of years being in the position that he was," Wells said of Anthopoulos, who was an assistant under former general manager J.P. Ricciardi for the past four years. "I think he's done really well so far and it will be interesting to see what unfolds."
The Angels and Phillies appear to lead the race to acquire Halladay, whose contract expires after the 2010 season. That is fine by Wells, considering that would limit the number of times the Jays might have to face Halladay. Wells and the rest of Toronto's hitters would be forced to see Halladay multiple times if he was dealt within the American League East.
"If we had to face him once a year, that's fine," Wells joked. "But if he's going to be with Boston or New York, that's going to be a problem."
All kidding aside, Wells understands Halladay's desire to pitch for a World Series contender. The Blue Jays are coming off a 75-win season and a fourth-place finish in the AL East, and the team is likely looking at a long road back to being a candidate for a playoff berth.
One year removed from being eligible for free agency, Halladay has made it no secret that he is not interested in signing an extension with the Blue Jays unless they show that they can compete for a postseason spot soon. Wells believes Halladay would prefer to compete for a title in Toronto, but that does not appear to be a realistic scenario.
"I haven't talked to him about it," Wells said, "but I think everybody kind of knows Doc's heart and what he wants. It's been said many times, obviously, if this organization is going to be in a position to win soon, this is where he wants to be. He loves Toronto. He loves the clubhouse. He loves the guys.
"Obviously, he's a creature of habit, and I think he's really comfortable in Toronto. If this was a place where he could win, he'd definitely want to be here."
Wells, who had surgery to repair cartilage damage in his left wrist on Nov. 12, said that his hand is feeling much better. He is scheduled to begin a strengthening routine next week and should be cleared to begin swinging a bat by the beginning of January. Wells added that he has decreased the intensity of his offseason workouts in order to save his strength for later in the 2010 campaign.
"I started training so early last year that I think that I probably reached my peak in March instead of reaching your peak in July or August," Wells said. "I've kind of backed off a little bit on that, but once I start swinging a bat, I'm going to hit more. ... My workouts are definitely tailored to being at my peak when I need to be at my peak."
Last season, Wells hit .260 with 15 home runs and 66 RBIs over 158 games -- one of the worst offensive seasons of his 11-year career with the Jays. Wells did not disclose the ongoing wrist issues during the season -- he originally broke the wrist during a diving catch in Cleveland in May 2008 -- and would not completely blame the injury for his subpar showing at the plate in '09.
"It felt strange," Wells admitted. "Taking the anti-inflammatories and the cortisone shots, the pain wasn't that bad. It just felt different -- kind of the strength wasn't there. But when you're playing, you don't think about it. You go back and think about how many balls I just missed that were on the barrel, it was just a frustrating year all around.
"I don't know if that contributed to it, but it'll be nice to not have that be an issue."
Wells also noted that he liked the changes Anthopoulos made to the coaching staff for the upcoming season. The center fielder believes handing the hitting-coach duties to Dwayne Murphy was a good decision and that shifting Brian Butterfield back to the third-base coach role can only help the team.
"It's kind of similar to what you might do with players, allowing people to be in a position they can succeed," Wells said. "I think Murphy knows a lot of the guys, he's worked with a lot of the guys and he has a relationship with a lot of the guys from a hitting standpoint. This will kind of allow him to do more and be a part of it more."
"Butter, I loved having him as a third-base coach," he added. "He takes advantage of a lot of things that some third-base coaches might not see. I've had the privilege of coming around second base and rounding third and scoring on some plays that I wouldn't normally be able to score on, because he's able to anticipate [events] that some other people may not be able to see."
Wells also said that the coaching changes made by Anthopoulos help address the late-season clubhouse controversy between the players and manager Cito Gaston.
"Whatever issues that were there, I think a lot of those issues come up with many different organizations," Wells said. "Unfortunately, ours went public and that was not the way we wanted that to happen. I think Alex did what he could to kind of diffuse everything.
"He talked with everyone. He gave his two cents and we gave our two cents and I think he did well. He did everything he could to make everything better and try not to, obviously, hurt too many people in the process."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.