Wells joins fans for a Web chat
Jays outfielder talks about this past season and his future
Blue Jays outfielder Vernon Wells joined fans for a Web chat on Monday about this past season, how he intends to spend his time this offseason and his plans for the future.
Vernon Wells: Hey, everyone. Glad to be here. Let's start answering some of your questions.
baller456: Hey, Vernon. Thanks for chatting! We obviously found out after the season that you were more injured than you led on. Just curious as to how much you felt your wrist affected you in 2009? How are you feeling now?
Wells: I guess it remains to be seen how much it actually affected me. Going into next year, I'm looking forward to not having any injuries now that my wrist is all taken care of. Hopefully getting back to what I'm used to: hitting and just feeling better.
jaysdude12_2: How did you feel about the return of John McDonald? Is he as well liked in the clubhouse as it comes across?
Wells: He is. He is a great teammate. He is a great person. He is the type of person you want to have on your team, both on the field and off, and hopefully he will get a chance to continue to get some playing time to show what he is capable of doing.
forsure30: After your clubhouse meeting in September, is everything cool between Cito Gaston and the players? I know this is not a place to air out dirty laundry, but was it all a big misunderstanding?
Wells: Things were blown out of proportion. Unfortunately, when issues go public, things can get blown up. But yes, everything is cleared up. Our relationship with Cito is fine and vice versa. Everyone is looking forward to 2010.
hotter15: What has been your proudest moment as a Blue Jays player?
Wells: Watching Carlos Delgado hit the four home runs was a blast to be a part of. Unfortunately there are no playoff stories yet, but hopefully they will come soon.
player68: Hi, V-Dove! With general manager Alex Anthopoulos talking about rebuilding through the Draft and trades, how does that make you feel? You obviously made a major commitment to this organization a few years ago, and now the team will not be in position to win for a few years.
Wells: Well, when I signed the contract I didn't know what the direction over the next few years was going to be -- any organization is going to go through change. Signing a deal, you never know who else is going to be coming in or out, and it's my responsibility, in the position that I am in, to continue to be a person on this team who isn't going to change no matter who is around and just try to help lead the team back to what it was in the early 90's.
norstrums: Hi, Mr. Wells. Brian Butterfield seems to be a well-thought-of coach by most baseball insiders. I know it's not your call, but could you ever see him managing the Blue Jays, or a team in Major League Baseball, in the future?
Wells: I think Brian has grown a lot in the game in the five or six years that I've spent with him. I think that he has the demeanor now to manage a team in the future, and the work ethic that he puts in is fantastic. He might get a shot to manage in the future.
hisockmojo: How much of an impact do you think fan support at the games contributes to the team's performance on the field?
Wells: I think that it makes a huge difference. Guys are into the game more and want to do more when the crowd is involved.
goater23: Vernon, are you looking forward to working with hitting coach Dwayne Murphy in 2010? What skills does he have that will help benefit the team?
Wells: Murph has a great ability to break down swings. I think he had a really good vantage point coaching first base last year and seeing what we were maybe doing wrong. He has a really good way of relaying that to the hitters and already has a good relationship with the guys on this team. I'm looking forward to working with him and it'll be fun. I'm happy for him.
theglove34: Hi, Vernon! I read on the Blue Jays Web site that you now have a charitable foundation. That's awesome. How can your fans help support your efforts? What do you need us to do? P.S. You are the best!
Wells: A lot of the stuff that I do is through the Jays Care Foundation which you can find on bluejays.com. A lot of the personal things that I do are posted at vernonwellsfoundation.org.
goldmem: I know you live in Arlington. Have you been to the new Cowboys Stadium? Is the scoreboard really that big?
Wells: I was there yesterday. Unfortunately, they lost to the Chargers. It is an amazing place and the screen is ridiculously big. It is hard to watch the game sometimes when that screen is hanging there, but it is a great place to watch a game. The board goes from the 20 to the 20.
mainguy39: Vernon, thanks for chatting! One of the main knocks on the Blue Jays over the last five years has been that they lack a leader in the clubhouse. How does something like this make you feel? Do you actually need a leader in baseball? Curious on your thoughts.
Wells: I think that anytime you go through a struggling time you go through leadership questions, but you can't speculate on that too much unless you're in the clubhouse. I don't read too much into the media, but I haven't heard a ton of guys that have been through here -- I don't think that is the issue.
jacker45: What have you been doing during the offseason? When do you start to get ready for Spring Training?
Wells: Rehabbing my wrist. Gave my body a couple of months to relax and get healthy. Now I'm about to start hitting in two weeks, so I'm looking forward to getting the bat back in my hands and start hitting and getting back in shape. Last year, I started entirely too early -- a little change in my program.
cooldude69: Which position in the lineup do you like hitting the most? I know you had a lot of success in past years in the No. 3 spot.
Wells: I do like hitting in the No. 3 spot, knowing that you're going to get up in the first inning. When you're locked in at the plate, though, it doesn't matter where you're hitting. It all depends on how you're swinging the bat, and I'm looking forward to getting into next year and helping the team score some more runs.
jershore: Hi, Vernon. I can't wait to get you back in the lineup feeling 100 percent. Does it feel weird to have a GM that is actually younger than you? Do you have faith in Alex's vision?
Wells: Well, I know I'm getting old, but I'm still only 31 -- he's 32, I believe. Alex has a passion for this job. He's grown into this role in a short period of time. It'll be fun to watch him work.
jayfan76: Hi, Vernon. I hope you're enjoying the offseason. Do the Jays' players follow any of the blogs about them? Some of them are very well written, but I do not agree with some of the language! Wondering if the team reads them?
Wells: Yes, guys read them. Some of them are comical. I've seen a few and guys will bring them up. It's funny to see what the fans think at different times.
halladazed: When Alex Rios went to the White Sox in a waiver claim, did you get a little bit worried about your own status with the club?
Wells: I don't worry about things that are outside of my control. I miss Alex. I wish him the best. But the focus is on this team and to continue to try and get better.
toronto75: Who was most influential in your baseball career growing up?
Wells: My Dad and all the coaches I had a chance to play for as a kid. My parents always put me in the best leagues in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and it helped shape me into the player that I am now.
clubber456: Are you tight with Roy Halladay? Does it upset you that he wants to be traded away from the Jays?
Wells: I don't know anyone who is really tight with Roy -- but friends, yes. When you get to a point in your career where he is at you make choices, and unfortunately that might not be the Blue Jays. I just hope that he and his family are happy with whatever decision they make.
cahewitt11: Hi, Mr. Wells. Do you enjoy fan events? Are you required to participate?
Wells: Yes, I do enjoy fan events. I think it's always great to get out and meet fans. They're never mandatory. It's an obligation that players need to be a part of and get to know the people that are cheering them on. I'm looking forward to seeing many of you this afternoon at the JaysShop at SEARS autograph session.
jays198: Why do you wear the number 10? Any special reason behind it?
Wells: I've worn No. 10 since my sophomore year in high school and it has just stuck. That and No. 24, from Ken Griffey Jr.
VernonWells_2: Who do you like in the National Championship Game: Texas or Alabama?
cndnbat: Hi, Vernon. Out of curiosity, what is your favorite ballpark to play in? Which is your least favorite?
Wells: Yankee Stadium -- the atmosphere is a blast to be a part of. Least favorite is Progressive Field in Cleveland because I hit .100 there!
bella282: Thanks for doing the chat today. Who is your best friend on the team? Who are you closest with?
Wells: Aaron Hill and John McDonald.
shaker15: Do you have a good relationship with J.P. Ricciardi? Were you upset to see him go?
Wells: I think J.P. was a major part of this organization for eight years. It was tough to see him go. Unfortunately, in this business you're going to go through personnel at many different levels and he helped me learn a lot about the game of baseball. I wish him the best in the future.
johnston23: Is there a player in Major League Baseball right now who you would like to play with more than anyone else?
Wells: Michael Young from the Rangers. Playing with him is a good time. He's a great friend.
gohert: Does it bother you that some media feel you don't show enough emotion? It's like they think you are not trying hard enough if you don't swear and yell at the umpire! What are your thoughts? Thanks, and keep up the great work in the community.
Wells: That has always been a knock against me. It's hard for some people to grasp the thought of self-control. I've always been the same whether I'm struggling or doing well, and in this game you need to be able to balance failure and success. If you fail seven out of 10 times you're going to be an All-Star.
cndnbat: Hey, Vernon. With your injury last season, if you could do it all over again, would you have still played through the pain or would you have opted to get surgery during the season?
Wells: I would have played through it. Being a competitor, you don't think that there is anything that can slow you down. When you're in the game your adrenaline kicks in and things don't hurt as bad. Of course I would have liked the season to have gone better, but I love playing the game of baseball no matter what injuries I may have.
jaystime: Do you position yourself in center based on your knowledge of the hitter and what the pitcher is trying to do or is someone positioning you? I read that Dwayne Murphy likes you shallow because that's how he played?
Wells: I position myself based on knowledge that I have of watching these hitters over the last eight or nine years. That coupled with whoever is on the mound allows you to be a step ahead of the hitter. So I can position myself on how I know the pitcher is going to attack a hitter and it allows me to save myself three or four steps just on positioning.
getmontero: Hi, Vernon. Ricky Romero commented on how nice those white throwback jerseys were that you guys wore on the Friday of the Back2Back Reunion Weekend this year. He said they breathe easier than the powder blues. I think they even look much better. What are your thoughts on them?
Wells: I totally agree. The white ones look a lot better than the giant Smurf ones. Yes, they do breathe a lot easier.
johnston23: Who was your favorite player growing up?
Wells: Ken Griffey Jr.
jacurrie: With the trade rumors about Halladay, how would you feel being the only true marquee player left on the team if he is traded?
Wells: I look at it as, it's a process. We're going to go through different times as an organization. I've been through a rebuild. A spending period. This looks to be a slight modification in plans, but I consider myself to be another one of the guys in the lineup. I'd be the most tenured Blue Jay if Roy was to leave, but we're all in there with the same goal: to win a championship.
yahtzee5: Who is the toughest pitcher that you have faced?
Wells: Daniel Cabrera a few years ago. He threw 98 miles per hour and had no clue where it was going, so it was an uncomfortable at-bat.
rcf221_2: What is it like to be drafted?
Wells: It was an experience I will never forget. The week leading up to the Draft, I was called by five different organizations starting from the No. 10 pick. The Cubs, A's, a few others that all said that they were going to take me with their first pick, but then the Jays called with their No. 5 pick, and Gord Ash flew in. We had a quick meeting, and the rest is history.
jacurrie: Which Jay do you think will be the story of the year for this upcoming season, much like Aaron Hill was this year?
Wells: I hope that there is a lot of us! I hope that there are a lot of guys who have huge years this year like Adam Lind and Aaron did last year. It is going to take those kinds of seasons to keep us in contention. That is a big part of playing in the American League East like we do.
johnston23: Vernon, I know you have speed on the basepaths. Is there a reason why you haven't stolen many bases throughout your career? If I can remember properly, I think out of high school you were one of the fastest prospects.
Wells: My first four or five years I was hitting in front of Carlos Delgado, so the running game was null and void with him hitting behind you, because you wanted to keep the runner at first and I could score from there. But now I'm old.
volvo4life: How would you rate the playing surface at Rogers Centre in relation to other parks you play at? Do you hear complaints from Jays or visiting players about the quality of the surface?
Wells: I think the plan is to get a new surface going into next season, but you're always going to go through a change going from turf to grass. Guys' bodies adapt to it in different ways.
bluejay83: Vernon, what are your personal goals for the 2010 season?
Wells: Obviously, just to do better than I did last year!
jacurrie: Why do you think B.J. Ryan fell off so dramatically? Was it the surgery, or something else?
Wells: It is difficult to return from surgery, especially being a pitcher, whether it is an elbow or shoulder. When you run into issues with that, there is no knowing what is going to happen with their velocity or control.
pdemarco: Which of the Jays' young starting pitchers do you think will have the most success?
Wells: I hope they all have good years. I think that Romero has the best chance to build off of what he was able to accomplish this year.
hisockmojo: Is there anything about MLB or baseball in itself that you think should be changed to better the game?
Wells: I think that there should be more teams allowed in the playoffs. I think that it will add a little more excitement to the game, and possibly shorten the season, if you're going to do that.
jacurrie: Can you guys hear the hecklers on the field, or are you too intensely focused on the game? Does it blend into a big pile of background noise?
Wells: When it is a stadium full of boos, I don't think you have too much of a choice but to hear it. You try not to take it personally. You understand what fans expect and you expect the same of yourself. It is heard, but it is a matter of how you're going to deal with it.
expos_gost: What other sports do you play for fun?
Wells: In my contract I'm not allowed to have fun in other sports -- but if I had a choice, it would be basketball or football. I have to wait until my contract is over for that.
johnston23: What do you think about the umpires? I'm not talking about the ones you deal with, I'm talking about the ones that buy seats right behind the backstop.
Wells: They have a good time. They enjoy the game. They did lie to us though, when they said that they don't punch out Blue Jays when they strike out. They did that to Rios in Washington.
getmontero: I really dislike the new countdown to the "OK Blue Jays, let's play ball" chant they do at the very beginning of each game. I think they should get rid of it. What do you think of it?
Wells: I totally agree and I've heard that it is being removed.
yahtzee5: What was it like on the field the first game that A.J. Burnett came back to face off against Halladay?
Wells: It was an atmosphere that I haven't heard in this stadium. I remember standing on second base and the bases were loaded. And the building felt like it was shaking from the cheers, boos, people just trying to get into A.J.'s head. I think it worked!
bigbat80: If you're stuck in a desert island and can only bring five things, what would they be?
Wells: 1. My wife and two boys; 2. Supply of Mexican food; 3. Tim Horton's coffee; 4. My mobile satellite dish; 5. TV.
Wells: Thanks for the questions. I'm off to the JaysShop at SEARS for an autograph session now. See you there!
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.