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08/10/08 1:59 PM ET

Wells returns from disabled list

Jays will be careful, won't use him in center field immediately

TORONTO -- The struggling Blue Jays offense received a boost on Sunday, as the team activated outfielder Vernon Wells from the 15-day disabled list prior to its series finale against the Indians.

Wells, who has been sidelined since July 10 with a strained left hamstring, arrived in Toronto just hours before game time, yet was placed in the starting lineup.

On Friday and Saturday, he appeared in games during a rehab assignment with Triple-A Syracuse and was deemed healthy enough to rejoin the Jays. Wells was the designated hitter in Friday's game and then played four innings in center field Saturday.

Though Wells said that he can now run the bases and patrol the outfield without problems, Jays manager Cito Gaston elected to have the slugger occupy the designated-hitter role in Sunday's series finale against the Indians.

"[We're] just going to try to take it easy on him for a while and make sure he's OK," Gaston said. "We don't want to lose him again, so we're just going to DH him."

Gaston also added that he will decide on a day-to-day basis about when exactly Wells would return to center field.

Wells had suffered a Grade 2 strain of his left hamstring while trying to steal a base against the Orioles on July 9. The Jays had hoped to have him back with the team for their upcoming series in Detroit.

"I think that anytime you can try to get back, no matter what the situation, you want to get back as quick as possible," Wells said. "I think right now, I'm at a point where I don't think I can hurt it any further.

"Obviously I have to try to be conservative at times. I'm going to still go as hard as I can, but I want to be here for the rest of the year. So I'll be smart at some points."

To make room for Wells, outfielder Kevin Mench was optioned to Syracuse.

Wells missed 26 games earlier this season because of a cracked left wrist. He is batting .287 with nine home runs and 42 RBIs in 64 games. During his most recent stint on the DL, the Jays hit a collective .252 and averaged 4.6 runs per game. During the first two games of its series against Cleveland, though, Toronto scored a combined four runs.

"If you erase the last couple of days, there's been sign of guys swinging the bats pretty well," Wells said. "Obviously, we're still not to the point where we need to be, but things have changed drastically over the last few weeks. We're moving in the right direction."

David Singh is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.