Blue Jays fans letting Wells have it

Blue Jays fans letting Wells have it

TORONTO -- A Blue Jays centerpiece for a decade, Vernon Wells was given a warm reception in August when he returned to Rogers Centre for the first time in an Angels uniform.

The response the second time around -- six weeks later -- has been less touchy and feely, and more cranky and crabby. How often do the fans in the left field area raise their voices in commentary for the Jays' former center fielder?

"The whole time," Wells said, having produced a homer and double in Tuesday night's victory. "It's impressive. From the first inning to the ninth inning, it's nonstop. I've heard everything. I don't expect anything less now that I'm on another team.

"Maybe they should put some of that energy into their own team, instead of putting a lot of energy into hating."

It should be pointed out that there are rules against wearing headphones on the field. Wells doesn't have much choice in hearing the voices. The sparse crowds in these late-season games give individuals a private stage to do their comedy club routines.

"He's getting booed, too," said Torii Hunter, who has experienced unconditional love when he returns to Minnesota, his MLB home for nine years before joining the Angels. "I really don't understand it.

"He got traded. It's not like he asked them to get rid of him. I left as a free agent. What he did [at the plate Tuesday night], that's what you always want to do on another team's field. But I'm pretty sure he had some extra motivation."

Wells buried himself statistically with a terrible start, getting out of his game in an effort to unload home runs rather than staying within himself and trying to smack line drives to all fields. Back in a groove, he's been pounding shots down the stretch, producing a .313 average in his past 25 games with 15 extra-base hits (six homers, six doubles and three triples)

"Even when he got hot in May," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, "he exhaled a bit, then totally lost his timing and was back to forcing some things.

"The last 20 games you're seeing a guy use the whole field, get in good counts, take walks. This is what Vernon brings. Hopefully, it'll be a growth experience for him. We need him down the stretch, swinging the way he can.

"I don't think his season was a total rewrite. He's going to be in range of his home run [projection]. His other numbers aren't what we expect, but I think he's going to be more productive next year, for sure."