Wells researches, gets his groove back

Wells researches, gets his groove back

ARLINGTON -- Vernon Wells was 24 and in his second full Major League season in Toronto when he had what turned out to be his career year. He hit .317 with 33 homers and 117 RBIs, leading the American League with 49 doubles and 215 hits.

Three years later, in 2006, he approached those numbers, batting .303 with 40 doubles, 32 homers, 106 RBIs and a career-high 17 steals.

Perplexed by his inability to recreate his youthful performance, Wells, at 32, recently went into the archives for video from that '06 season. He picked up a few clues involving his stance and weight distribution, went into the batting-cage lab to do some testing and came out with what he hopes was the solution to his season-long struggles with the Angels.

"I was more on my back side," Wells said, finding that by closing his stance he was able to "get my weight in the center of my body. This gave me a better path to the ball."

Focusing on driving the ball through the middle of the field, Wells found that line drives were starting to take off again and carry long distances.

"When I'm where I should be," he said, "staying through the middle, I should be hitting more doubles. And the home runs will come on elevated line drives."

In Saturday night's pivotal 8-4 victory, giving the Angels a shot at taking the series from the Rangers on Sunday night, Wells was a force against Texas ace C.J. Wilson.

Wells powered a 408-foot home run to dead center and a triple to deepest right-center along with a walk. He is 10-for-20 during a modest six-game hitting streak, lifting his average to .215. That's still a long way from where the .275 career hitter used to reside, but he's moving on up at the right time.

The research is paying off for the three-time All-Star who grew up a few miles away from Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.