Padres likely to cut ties with colorful character Wells

Updated: August 9, 2007, 11:47 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

SAN DIEGO -- David Wells is finished with his hometown San Diego Padres, and it's possible that baseball has seen the last of the boisterous left-hander known as Boomer.

Olney on Wells

Think you've seen the last of David Wells in the big leagues? Think again. Buster Olney says don't be surprised if Wells surfaces again. Story Insider

General manager Kevin Towers said Wednesday that the Padres will cut ties with the struggling 44-year-old on Thursday in order to activate All-Star Chris Young from the disabled list.

Towers and manager Bud Black met with Wells on Tuesday night after the Padres' game in St. Louis, telling him that he wouldn't be making his scheduled start Saturday in Cincinnati.

"We kind of laid out some options for him," Towers told The Associated Press by phone. "If he still wanted to play, we'll designate him for assignment and see if other clubs have interest, or if he wants to hang them up, he can retire. We're waiting for him to get back to us."

It was unknown whether Wells will retire or try to finish the season with another team.

Wells' locker at Busch Stadium was cleaned out on Wednesday. His agent, Gregg Clifton, said Wells was flying to the hunting ranch in Michigan that he co-owns with former big leaguer Kirk Gibson.

Towers called the 235-game winner one of the best left-handers ever, and said it was tough to let him go.

"He's had a pretty remarkable career," Towers said. "He's been a great teammate. It's going to be tough not to have his presence in the clubhouse. I'll miss that."

Wells was 0-3 with a 14.33 ERA in his last four starts, and 5-8 with a 5.54 ERA overall this season.

He seemed all but finished with baseball at the end of last season, when the two-time NL West champion Padres were eliminated from the playoffs by the St. Louis Cardinals. He said then that it would take a "stupid" offer to get him back in uniform.

David Wells

Wells

Starting Pitcher
San Diego Padres

Profile

2007 Season Stats
GM W L BB K ERA
22 5 8 33 63 5.54

Wells agreed in January to return to the Padres for one year, with $3 million in base pay and the chance to make another $4 million in incentives. He'd earned about $2.9 million in incentives.

Clifton feels there will be a market for the big lefty, perhaps even in the NL West.

"I think based upon what David has done for his career and his season, his veteran status and what he brings to a team, I do think there would be a lot of interest in adding him to a roster for the stretch run," Clifton said by phone from his office in the Phoenix area.

The Padres will have 10 days to trade Wells or place him on unconditional release waivers. If he clears waivers he would be a free agent.

Clifton says Wells is "absolutely interested" in pitching for a contending team, going forward.

Two teams in need of starting pitching now are actually division rivals of the Padres -- the Los Angeles Dodgers (who are coping with injuries to the likes of Jason Schmidt and Randy Wolf) and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Padres ace Jake Peavy said goodbye to Wells on Tuesday night.

"We certainly all loved Boomer here," Peavy said. "The man's had a great career. I hate to see a good friend go. I know Boomer gave us all he had. A lot of teams talk about his antics and his beer-drinking and this and that, but there's something to be said for being wanted for 20 years on a major league roster. That's pretty special."

Peavy wouldn't be surprised if a team called Wells.

"The Dodgers are struggling for pitching, the Yankees, I don't know what they've got. You don't want to end your career by getting released in August."

If Wells retires, he will have gone out as irascible as ever, even clashing with none other than commissioner Bud Selig.

Last week, Selig fined Wells $5,000 for comments he made in July after he was suspended seven games and fined $3,000 for his animated argument with an umpire who ejected him on July 7. As he left the field that day, Wells fired a baseball into the screen behind home plate.

Wells, who's chirped often at the umps this year, had appealed both punishments.

One of the comments that bugged the commissioner was when Wells called baseball's discipline czar, Bob Watson, "a henchman and a yes man for Bud Selig."

Wells learned to play baseball by playing catch with members of the Hells Angels in San Diego's rough-edged Ocean Beach district. He was a former resident of the Bronx Zoo and has been one of baseball's notable party animals.

In his autobiography, Wells wrote that he had a "skull-rattling hangover" when he pitched a perfect game for the New York Yankees against Minnesota in 1998.

Also in 1998, he won Game 1 of the World Series against the Padres, starting a four-game sweep by the Yankees.

Including his 2-0 loss to the Cardinals in October, Wells is 10-5 with a 3.17 ERA in 27 career postseason appearances, including 17 starts. He also won a World Series ring with Toronto in 1992.

But he's struggled recently, including Monday night when the Cardinals tied a major league record with 10 consecutive hits in a 10-run fifth inning. He gave up seven runs and 11 hits in four-plus innings.

"Father time catches up with all of us," Towers said. "It wasn't anything mechanical. He still had a great delivery. It's tougher for him to go deeper in ballgames. He probably didn't have the velocity he once had, and the pinpoint location that he's always relied on.

"I will say that every time he went out there, he gave you everything he had and battled as well as he could. It happens to all of us, even one of the great ones."

Wells, who came up with Toronto in 1987, is 235-156 with a 4.12 ERA lifetime with eight teams. He pitched for the Padres in 2004, signed with Boston before the 2005 season and was traded back to San Diego last Aug. 31 for the stretch run.

Recently acquired lefty Wilfredo Ledezma is a candidate to start Saturday.

ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney and The Associated Press contributed to this story.