Wells playing for his teammates, not fans

There was a time when Jays fans wouldn’t dream of booing centre fielder Vernon Wells.

There was a time when Jays fans wouldn’t dream of booing centre fielder Vernon Wells. With his highlight-reel defence, a potent bat and nice-guy traits, Wells had easily become a fan-favourite.

That’s changed this year, though. While Toronto has fallen in the standings, Wells has also struggled, making him a scapegoat for angry fans who’ve bombarded him with jeers on many occasions. But Wells maintains that such booing is not what’s affecting him.

“I couldn’t care less what their views are, good or bad,” Wells said. “It’s funny, you could go through one year and people get down on you and you come out the next year and it’ll be completely different. So I don’t put any of my time or effort into what they say.

“I’m here to play for the other 24 guys in the clubhouse.”

Wells’ stats have dropped across the board this season, but what stands out is the difference between his numbers at Rogers Centre, where he’s hit .211, and on the road, where he’s hit .291.

Jays manager Cito Gaston believes Wells’ swing has lacked timing all year, but he also acknowledged the veteran might be feeling pressure from his seven-year, $126-million contract.

“Here’s a guy that’s supposed to be a big part of the franchise,” Gaston said. “He’s paid well — we all know that. You kind of wonder ‘Hey man, I got to do something,’ so you put pressure on yourself.”

But Wells, 30, believes the problem purely lies in his timing. “I’ve never gone through a complete season of just being a click off (with my swing),” he said. “I’ve had plenty of pitches to drive and I find myself just missing pitches. It’s been that way all year.

“You go through weeks of it, but you never think you’re going to go through a year of it.”

Wells’ career has spanned more than 10 years. But his 2009 campaign was ultimately defined by perseverance, he says.

“No matter how bad things are going, you continue to try to play as hard as you can and know that this is just one of those years that things just couldn’t get right,” Wells said. “You continue to do your work and try to improve and know that at some point, this rough spell is going to end.”

 
 
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