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Wells: 'I don't plan on coming back'

9/2/2006 - MLB David Wells San Diego Padres + more

SAN DIEGO -- David Wells blew into his hometown on Friday evening and said he's all but certain that this will be the last season of his successful, colorful big-league career.

Wells, obtained Thursday by San Diego from the Boston Red Sox for the stretch drive, said he plans to retire regardless of whether he helps get the Padres into the playoffs.

"I'm going to pull a Junior Seau. I'm just graduating," Wells joked, referring to the former Chargers linebacker who announced recently that he was "graduating" from the NFL rather than retiring.

But unlike Seau, who signed with the New England Patriots four days later, Boomer said he plans to walk away for good.

"I don't think I'm going to officially retire, but I don't plan on coming back, I'll tell you that right now," the free-spirited lefty said about an hour after arriving from the airport. "I've enjoyed my career, the ups and downs of it. It made me who I am today. I think it's time to pass the baton and let a young guy play."

Wells is scheduled to start Sunday against the Cincinnati Reds.

He said he's already booked several hunting trips for next year and that he's going to Africa in November.

Wells did leave himself a little wiggle room.

"I'm going to be out in the woods or somewhere having some fun," he said. "I think it's time. I'm not going to just come out and say I'm retiring, but just play it by ear. Unless there's something that's so stupid out there that I can't turn down, then so be it."

That might not be too likely for a guy who's 43 and was bothered by a knee injury most of this season.

But Wells has pitched well the last month, which is why the defending NL West champion Padres agreed to give up one of their top prospects, catcher George Kottaras, to get him.

Wells is 2-3 with a 4.98 ERA. Since returning from the disabled list on July 31, he is 2-2 in six starts. He has a 2.65 ERA in his last five outings beginning Aug. 5.

Wells has been outstanding in October. He's pitched in the playoffs 10 times for five clubs -- Boston, the New York Yankees, Toronto, Cincinnati and Baltimore, with a career record of 10-4 and a 3.15 ERA.

He won World Series rings with the Blue Jays in 1992 and again in 1998, when he beat the Padres in Game 1 to get the Yankees headed
toward a sweep. He was with the Yankees when they lost the 2003 World Series to Florida.

For his career, Wells is 229-146 with a 4.07 ERA.

Wells had been pushing for a trade back to San Diego, where he pitched in 2004.

"They have an opportunity to win here," Wells said. "It's just an opportunity to pitch and try to help a team win and go into the playoffs. That's when I shine. I've done it my whole career. I love the ball in a big game. I'm not afraid to take it, I'm not afraid to fail, I'm not afraid to lose and I love to win.

"As long as I've been pitching as well as I have, hopefully I can make a difference here and help these guys win a pennant," he said.

Catcher Mike Piazza remembers when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers and he faced Wells, then with Cincinnati, in the 1995 division series.

"That shows you where time goes," Piazza said. "I'm looking forward to it. I've always been against him in some big games, which hasn't always been fun. So this should hopefully be a little bit more fun.

"We're all excited when we have a guy like David Wells on the team, as far as his history in big games and games down the stretch," Piazza said. "I think it's going to be a real plus, hopefully, for our ballclub."

Wells was 12-8 with a 3.73 ERA for San Diego in 2004.

Manager Bruce Bochy is looking forward to having Boomer back.

"I reminded him that we still had curfew here," Bochy joked.