After adding 22 RBI and more than doubling his home run total to 31 last season compared to the previous, is another big year in store for star outfielder Vernon Wells now that he will be playing for the Angels in hit happy Southern California?
"...You forget about everything that happened last year because it doesn't really affect this year," Wells told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in this morning's editions. "It's a whole new challenge."
After hitting .565 in his last year at nearby Bowie High School in Arlington before being taken as the No. 5 overall pick in the 1993 draft, Wells has had an often disappointing, up-and-down career especially considering his signing of a $126 million contract with the Blue Jays five years ago, compensation which he admits he has never earned.
The fact that the Blue Jays traded him to the Angels for part-time, third-string catcher Mike Napoli (since traded to the Rangers) and aging outfielder Juan Rivera may say something about Toronto's lack of faith that Wells will be able to stay healthy long enough to continue performing until his contract runs out in 2014.
But the good-natured Wells, 32 -- who once laid down a bunt in the home run hitting contest at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown -- seems unaffected, concentrating on home life, community and life off the field while he can.
"In the off-season, you try to take as much time as you can to separate yourself from the game," Wells said. "The biggest sacrifice you make during the season is being away from your family. So you've got to soak it all up while you're here."
Wells and his wife Charlene operate the Vernon Wells Perfect 10 Foundation, providing aid and assistance to single mothers and disadvantaged children. Sunday he will address the Texas Brahmas hockey team for the school's Faith and Family Day.
"It's an honor to be asked to do things like this," Wells said.