Left fielder Vernon Wells watches the Angels bat against the Minnesota… (Gary A. Vasquez / US Presswire )
Reporting from New York — No one has batted more times for the Toronto Blue Jays than Vernon Wells. He has more hits than anyone besides Tony Fernandez, more home runs than anyone besides Carlos Delgado.
He returns Friday in several unusual positions — in a visiting uniform, in left field, and in a pennant race in August.
The Blue Jays have scheduled a news conference for the reunion, though Wells does not sound overly sentimental.
"It's just another road trip," he said. "It's going to be a little different going there. It'll be good to get back, but it's just another road city now."
In his nine years as Toronto's center fielder, the Jays posted a winning record five times — four in the last five years — but never finished within 10 games of first place in the American League East.
"It takes time to build a team to compete in that division over the course of a full season, and in the long haul," Wells said. "Look at what the Rays did. It's possible. That's not to say it's going to happen, but I think at some point, they'll find themselves in the thick of the division."
With the Blue Jays defending themselves from sign-stealing accusations, Angels Manager Mike Scioscia acknowledged he has changed the team's signs on previous trips to Toronto.
He said he did not anticipate doing so this time, but said he has "a handful of times" over the years in response to rumors of sign-stealing.
"Some of this stuff, we had heard before … but not just there," he said.
Scioscia called the changes "precautionary" and said he did not necessarily believe the Blue Jays or other teams were stealing signs.
"I think the likelihood of it is very slim," Scioscia said. "If something like that is going to be team-wide, when players leave the organization, word is going to get out.
"If you're doing something not kosher, the word is going to get out."
Richards vs. Rangers?
Garrett Richards made his first major league start at Yankee Stadium, and he could make his second against the first-place Texas Rangers.
Scioscia said he has not decided whether Richards or Joel Pineiro — demoted last week to the bullpen — would start Monday. The Angels could have juggled the rotation so Dan Haren would start Monday against Texas, but Scioscia said such a move would be better suited for the third week of September than the second week of August.
"Right now, a baseball game is a baseball game," Scioscia said. "You can't devalue other games."
The Angels clubhouse was still buzzing about a play in Wednesday's game in which right fielder Torii Hunter dived to try to catch a fly ball. Pitcher Tyler Chatwood thought Hunter had caught the ball. Scioscia thought the ball had dropped for a hit.
But there was center fielder Peter Bourjos, who had backed up and caught the ball even as Hunter all but screened him out.
"Let's say you're a quarterback and you have to throw it between us," Hunter said. "Two defenders are there, and you have to try to split the hole. It's going to get intercepted. That's pretty much what happened."