Originally created 02/22/99

Is Toronto a way station for Wells?



There's no telling how long David Wells will stick around once he reports to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Wells took a weekend break from spring training, having left the New York Yankees' camp in tears after they traded him in a three-player package for Roger Clemens.

Wells does not seem thrilled at the prospect of pitching for his old team, and already a couple of clubs -- the New York Mets and Cleveland Indians -- appear eager to provide him a new home.

"We did talk to the Blue Jays the day of the trade and (assistant general manager) Omar Minaya spoke with them the second day," Mets GM Steve Phillips said Sunday at Port St. Lucie, Fla.

"But right now he's part of their staff and they're not trading him," Phillips said.

Phillips said he understood the Indians, still in search of an ace, had also inquired about Wells.

The Mets like their projected rotation of Al Leiter, Rick Reed, Bobby Jones, Masato Yoshii and Hideo Nomo, though that could change.

"The only thing we'd be interested in is if there were a top-line starting pitcher available," Phillips said. "Most trades probably won't happen until the end of spring, after the evaluations."

Wells was 18-4 for the Yankees last year, then went 4-0 in the postseason. The left-hander was traded with reliever Graeme Lloyd and second baseman Homer Bush to the Yankees on Thursday.

Wells was expected to join the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla., today.

"We're getting a good one in Wells," Toronto catcher Darrin Fletcher said. "If you're going to get a starter, you might as well get one who is his caliber of player. We've been needing a left-handed starter, it has been the team's No. 1 priority. It cost us Roger Clemens, but we got him."

The AL Central champion Indians also are looking for a No. 1 pitcher. In the past, Philadelphia's Curt Schilling has been mentioned as their top target -- in the meantime, they invited free agent Orel Hershiser to camp.

The Indians already have set up their planned rotation, and it doesn't include Hershiser. But, there's still a lot of time left before opening day.

"We'll see what happens," Hershiser said in Winter Haven, Fla.

The Oakland Athletics already have an ace in Kenny Rogers, though he was the only one absent on the first day of practice for pitchers and catchers.

"I think it's somewhere in between harmless and a statement," A's general manager Billy Beane said in Phoenix. "I know this, Kenny doesn't like to leave his family."

Rogers demanded a trade in November, then rescinded it 18 days later. But he's made it clear he'd like to nearer to his family in Tampa, Fla.

Oakland's batterymen are not required to report to spring training for another week, but almost all voluntarily show up for the first workout.

"He'll be here tomorrow. It's no big deal, one day," A's manager Art Howe said. "He gave us a ton of innings last year. Maybe an extra day of rest will help him."