Wells hopes to undercut timeline
Jays outfielder motivated to return from hamstring strain early
TORONTO -- Vernon Wells is hoping to maintain his reputation as a quick healer. The last thing that the center fielder wants is to be stuck on the disabled list for the Blue Jays until late August.
That is the worst-case scenario for the severely strained left hamstring that Wells is nursing right now. Already this season, Wells has shown an ability to defy his doctor's prognosis, and he's hoping to once again push the timetable in order to make another swift return.
"I'm going to do my best," Wells said. "There's no sense in trying to go by what timeline they give you. Our job is to beat it, and I'm going to do everything I can to try to get back as quick as possible."
Within reason, of course. Wells plans on being cautious, considering he's currently featuring a slight limp and running is out of the question for a while. That doesn't mean that Wells can't dedicate his time to increasing the intensity of his rehab work as often as possible.
Wells suffered a Grade 2 strain of the hamstring while stealing third base in the sixth inning of Wednesday's game against the Orioles. The initial timetable established by the Blue Jays' medical staff estimated that Wells could potentially be activated from the 15-day DL in four to six weeks.
On May 9, the 29-year-old Wells -- now in the first season of the seven-year, $126 million extension he signed two winters ago -- fractured his left wrist while making a diving catch in Cleveland. During that same diving play, Wells also tweaked his hamstring, though that minor injury was to his right leg.
"I'd understand if it was that one -- maybe," Wells said. "I had an issue with it early in the season, but this is totally different. As soon as I took off, I guess I hyperextended my leg too much, and there it went. It's just a freakish incident."
After Wells broke his hand in May, it was estimated that he would miss six to eight weeks, but the center fielder returned less than a month removed from the injury. While Wells wants similar results with his latest setback, he knows it's not going to be an easy road ahead.
The moment Wells bolted for third base against the Orioles, he knew something was wrong. Wells said he felt pain shoot down his leg -- unlike any other injury he'd experienced previously. He remained in the game until the completion of the inning, but he promptly retreated to the trainer's room.
"When I did it, it felt weird," Wells said. "I figured it was something different than I had done in the past. I knew when I did it, it wasn't going to be a good sign. As soon as I took off, it felt different. It felt funny, and I thought I could just run through it. As I kept going, it didn't stop hurting."
The injury has been another disappointing chapter in a frustrating season for Wells, who has battled injuries and performed below expectations, hitting .287 with nine home runs and 42 RBIs in 64 games. Adding to Wells' frustration was the fact that he was starting to feel better at the plate.
Since Cito Gaston took over as Toronto's manager on June 20, Wells had hit at a .310 clip with two homers and 14 RBIs in 17 games. With Wells and right fielder Alex Rios performing better, the Blue Jays' offense was beginning to show signs of life in the past few weeks.
"We've actually started playing good baseball and putting runs on the board," said Wells, who will head home to Texas during the All-Star break before rejoining the club on Thursday in Florida. "The middle of the lineup was starting to drive in runs."
That's a main reason Wells wants to return as quickly as possible, and why the Blue Jays hope he meets that goal.
"I guess you could call him a quick healer," Gaston said. "We're hoping that's going to happen. If he's back in a month, that'd be great."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.