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Wells expects to miss two weeks

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells expects to miss two weeks after an MRI showed he re-injured the left hamstring that kept him on the disabled list for a month late last season.

"I don't think it's that big of a deal," Wells said Tuesday. "It's something that if I needed to get through it now, I could. But this time of the year, it's just basically get healthy and get ready for the season."

Wells, who batted .300 with 20 home runs and 78 RBIs in 108 games last year, injured his hamstring during drills Monday.

Wells said the worst-case scenario would limit him to starting as designated hitter when the regular season begins April 6 against the Detroit Tigers.

"Looking back at last year, that's what it was and that took four weeks," Wells said. "This time, having had that injury and knowing what's to be done, it shouldn't be that long. Hopefully, my swing will be back where it needs to be in a couple of weeks."

Wells missed 52 games because of injuries in 2008. The three-time Gold Glove winner broke his left wrist making a sliding catch on May 9 at Cleveland, then strained the hamstring July 9 against Baltimore when he pulled up after stealing third base.

After returning from that injury, he batted .318 with 11 home runs and 36 RBIs over the final 44 games last season, then worked with a personal trainer in the offseason, hoping to strengthen the hamstrings that had bothered in the past.

"Baseball is a game of quick starts and stops. A quick start can set it off, or a quick stop," manager Cito Gaston said. "There's not much you can do.

"I think the only thing you can do is play like we played as kids sometimes," Gaston said with a hint of a smile. "Let him DH and have somebody run for him -- and that's from home plate. Otherwise, you take a chance. If you try to play and be careful, you're more likely to get hurt."

Notes:

LHP Mike Maroth, whose left knee locked up a week ago, threw about 40 pitches off the mound Tuesday, plus some pitcher fielding practice. I didn't let it go completely but I didn't hold back, he said. It felt fine. ... Buck Coats will replace Wells in center field for Wednesdays spring-training opener against the visiting New York Yankees.