Angels outfielder Vernon Wells at spring training at Diablo Stadium (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)
TEMPE, Ariz. — — The most interesting spring development regarding the Angels on Sunday happened in Florida, where Curtis Granderson of the New York Yankees suffered a broken arm.
Granderson is not expected to return until May, so might the Yankees fill the void by taking Vernon Wells off the Angels' hands?
Probably not. However, Wells was well aware of the Granderson injury by the time he spoke with reporters midway through the Angels' 7-5 Cactus League loss to the Oakland Athletics.
Wells reached base in each of his two plate appearances, once on an infield single and the other on an error, and stole a base. He was more than ready to assess the significance of Granderson's injury.
"It just stinks for them. It has nothing to do with me," Wells said. "I'm wearing an Angels uniform. I want to win in this uniform.
"It's going to be a tough one for them. They always find a way to work around injuries."
If the Angels did not owe Wells $42 million over the next two seasons, and if the Yankees were not on an austerity kick for 2014, there might be a match. But the Angels are not likely to pay off enough of that $42 million to interest the Yankees, particularly with Wells as the only experienced protection against an injury to a starting outfielder or a lack of offense from center fielder Peter Bourjos.
The Yankees could use a right-handed bat to complement starting outfielders Granderson, Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki. But the Yankees have former Angels and Dodgers outfielder Juan Rivera in camp on a minor league contract, and the performances of Wells and Rivera last season were comparable. Wells, 34, hit .230 with 11 home runs and a .682 OPS in 77 games. Rivera, 34, hit .244 with nine home runs and a .661 OPS in 109 games.
Virtually every injury to an outfielder on a contending team this spring will trigger speculation about Wells. He says he monitors trade rumors, but not too closely.
"If you can tell me what's going to happen April 1, you have the wrong job," Wells said.
Wells, a three-time All-Star with the Toronto Blue Jays, has earned a bench spot by batting .222 in two years with the Angels. He said he did not ask for a trade last winter, even after the Angels signed Josh Hamilton.
"I put myself in this position," he said. "I had a rough couple years. Everybody loves a comeback story. I'm going to work for one."
Competition? Not here
If you're looking for a hot battle for a spot in the lineup or the starting rotation, you'd better find another camp. The Angels have competition for the last two bullpen spots and three bench spots, but the lineup and starting rotation are basically set.
"As a general rule, if you have an open competition for a regular position, that usually means you're not very good," Angels General Manager Jerry Dipoto said, "or you're a young team."