Wells’ triumphant return
Vernon Wells officially made his return to Toronto on Friday night and what a return it was. Wells took the first pitch he saw from Brandon Morrow and sent it over the wall in left-centre field for his 17th homer of the season.
That moment likely will play a major role in the game story I write later tonight when this game eventually ends but it was the two minutes before that pitch that really took me by surprise.
Wells heard his fair share of boos when he was in a Blue Jays uniform and I was expecting more of the same tonight. Most of those jeers had to do with struggling to live up to the lofty expectations of a seven-year, $126-million. But when he stepped into the batter’s box for the first time as an opposing player at Rogers Centre all of that was forgotten.
The same fan base that booed the return of mild-mannered players like Lyle Overbay, Marco Scutaro and Eric Hinske in recent seasons rolled out the red carpet. The 24,731 fans in attendance rose to their feet to pay their respect to one of the most accomplished hitters in franchise history.
Wells returned the salute by stepping out of the batters box, removing his helmet and waving to the crowd. It was a classy and well deserved moment for the player who spent 12 seasons in Toronto and did a lot of good both on and off the field.
Make sure to check out my story on Wells’ return. You can also check out today’s notebook with items on Adeiny Hechavarria being promoted to Triple-A, injury updates on Carlos Villanueva and Brian Tallet, and an item on Brett Lawrie sticking in the No. 9 hole for now.
You can also follow me on Twitter @gregorMLB. Here are some of the leftovers from Wells’ news conference today that didn’t make it onto the main site. There is some interesting stuff here on his transition to the Angels, his thoughts on Toronto and of course the sign-stealing controversy:
On what it means to be back…
“This is a special day not only for myself but for my family. It’s a place where we all had a chance to grow up, I learned so many different things. I learned about a completely different country so I’ve been able to experience a lot in this life and meet a lot of amazing people.”
On how he felt in January and how he feels now…
“There was a lot of crying at the beginning of it just saying goodbye to guys. I didn’t think it would be that hard and you start having conversations with guys that you’ve known for years and saying goodbye was difficult.
“Then the whole transition, you take forgranted just how comfortable you can be in a place that’s all you know. Spring Training, to the season, to anything you do over the course of a baseball season. It has obviously been an adjustment for me and my family but it has been fun. We moved from one great place to another great place and I think that’s the best thing that could happen.”
On pressing too much in Los Angeles…
“I think early on you move to a situation, you want to try to much at times. I’ve been guilty of that throughout this season, different times and there’s been times where I’ve just relaxed and played the game but it’s part of the adjustment. You go from a place where you’ve been comfortable and knowing what you do. You go to a place where everything changes, it has been an interesting process to go through.”
On person success of team success…
“I’ll take this situation just because I haven’t had a chance to play in a post season. Individual numbers are great but at the end of the day you want to be in the post season, you want to win a World Series, you want to have a chance to do that.
“I’ve been able to accomplish a lot individually but it really hasn’t gotten me a lot other than sitting home watching October baseball. For now I’d trade it but I’d rather have both.”
On first playoff race in his career…
“It’s fun, you’re aware of everything that goes on around you. You’re so in tune to each pitch and each run that scores. It’s a different feeling. obviously. It’s the same game, you go out and play a game, that we don’t have to grow up yet, and things like that but each thing means so much more now. It has been a fun process and it’s only going to get that much better moving forward.”
On the sign stealing controversy in Toronto…
“I’ve heard so many different conspiracy theories from different stadiums, and different teams, doing certain things. It’s a story for a little while and then it blows over and something else comes out.
“I laughed, I talked to different people about it. It is what it is, I guess that’s the best way to put it. I don’t even know where to start with it. I’ve answered too many questions about it and it’s not true. So, just move on.”
On what type of crowd reaction he expects…
“I don’t know, it could be a mix of both, it could be bad it could be good. The one thing I’ve learned in this game is that you can’t control that and anything you can’t control you try not to worry about it.
“I know there has been good times in this city, I know there has been bad times in this city, over the course of my career but I felt like I left on good terms. It wasn’t something where I wanted out. I don’t think I did too much to really piss too many people off.
“There have been situations of that in the past. I don’t want to talk about those, and who they were, but they’re kind of comical when you look back at them. I think I left on good enough terms to hopefully where it will be a good reaction and if not I’ll get in the box and try to hit a homer.”