TORONTO -- Vernon Wells was back where it all began on Thursday, but it hardly felt like a homecoming.
For one, there's been so much turnover with the Blue Jays over the last couple of seasons that he hardly recognizes the faces in the home dugout at Rogers Centre. Then there's the fact that he isn't playing, out for more than a month because of an injury to his right thumb that required surgery.
"It feels like forever, but it definitely makes you appreciate your time on the field," said Wells, a three-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner while playing his first 12 seasons in Toronto. "You can't take that for granted, because as much as I love baseball, it's tough to watch when you're not out there playing."
But Wells is progressing. He's been taking fly balls and doing some running drills, expects to start hitting and throwing next week, hopes to begin a rehab assignment shortly after the All-Star break and doesn't see any reason why he wouldn't be activated by late July.
What role he'll be activated for? That's a different story.
Prior to May 20, when Wells was injured, the Angels' offense sported a .252/.305/.383 line. Since then it's .282/.344/.448.
Whether that's a byproduct or a coincidence is debatable -- Mike Trout's emergence alone is responsible for a lot of that boost -- but it does bring into question what kind of role Wells will have upon returning.
The outfield is essentially set, with Trout, Mark Trumbo and Torii Hunter, and Peter Bourjos finding it hard to play, and there's no way the Angels can move Wells' contract, which will pay him $21 million each of the next two seasons.
"This thing can turn six different ways before he comes back," manager Mike Scioscia said, "so you really can't speculate on what's going to happen."
How much has Wells thought about that?
"None," Wells said. "No concern here. My concern is just getting my thumb better. Everything else will take care of itself. It's not my job anyway. I just have to go out and play baseball and help this team win. As long as I do that, I'll find a spot here and there."