DETROIT -- The Angels could have a difficult situation on their hands with outfielder Vernon Wells, whose recovery from right thumb surgery could have him back with the club by late July.
With Wells in the lineup, the Angels ranked 27th in the Majors in runs per game (3.64) and tied for 22nd with a .686 OPS (on-base plus slugging).
Since he went on the disabled list May 21, they're tied for first in runs per game (5.35) and rank second in OPS (.821).
A lot of other things went into that improvement, of course. Like Mike Trout having a bigger imprint on the offense and Albert Pujols getting going. But it was Wells' injury that created an everyday role for Mark Trumbo and stabilized their outfield. And as Wells' return draws near -- he'll begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Salt Lake on Friday -- it's clear the Angels have very little need or room for him.
On one hand, there's Wells' .223/.255/.414 slash line in 169 games with the Angels. But then there's that immovable contract, which will pay him $21 million each of the next two seasons.
What role will Wells be coming back to? Barring a trade over the next couple of weeks, it's hard to see it being any more prominent than a limited bench role -- where he'd get a start on the days Kendrys Morales sits against left-handers and perhaps spell Torii Hunter once or twice per week.
The playing time of Trout and Trumbo, at least, will not be compromised. Manager Mike Scioscia will admit that much.
"We're going to look at the situation presented when Vernon's healthy and back and ready to go, but I think Vernon understands the situation," Scioscia said. "With the way Mike and Mark are playing, they're going to be out there every day, and we'll see how everything else folds in."