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Angels' Wells closer to coming off DL and taking unknown role

The SportsXchange

They are not words Los Angeles Angels fans are eager to hear.

"We're not putting a specific date on it right now," manager Mike Scioscia said of outfielder Vernon Wells' imminent return. "But he's close, there's no doubt, and he's getting closer."

Wells went 2-for-5 with a two-run home run Tuesday night in his fifth game on a rehab assignment with Class AAA Salt Lake. Wells has gone 8-for-20 with a double, two home runs and three stolen bases in his first game action since tearing a ligament in his right thumb May 20.

"The thumb feels good. It's just a matter of getting the body back into baseball shape," Wells said of his rehab. "What we've been doing the past couple weeks is getting me prepared for this moment, especially my hand, and now it's just the body, just being on your feet at different times and standing around, then having to sprint. It's just putting different muscles in play."

Wells is expected to play a couple more games with Salt Lake and then rejoin the Angels in Anaheim over the weekend in order to be re-evaluated. The original expectation was that Wells would play seven to 10 games before the Angels would consider activating him from the DL.

"We're going to evaluate this through the next couple days, talk to Vernon to see how he feels, talk to Keith Johnson, our Triple-A manager," Scioscia said Tuesday. "He's playing at a high level. There's certainly some stiffness you work through as you get into playing games in what's essentially been a spring training for him."

A huge disappointment in 2011, Wells was hitting .244 with six home runs and 12 RBI in 38 games this year at the time of his injury. Since then, however, Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo have emerged as All-Stars and everyday players in the outfield, leaving little room for Wells when he returns. Six games under .500 when Wells was injured, the Angels have gone 35-21 in Wells' absence.

"First things first," Wells said when asked about the role he expects when he rejoins the Angels. "I've got to get my game to where it needs to be. Timing is the biggest thing after being out for a couple of months. But once my timing is there, I'll get quite a few at-bats under my belt and get there and do what I can to help that team win."

Trout, the AL batting leader, had a rare hitless game Tuesday, but Trumbo went 2-for-4 in the Angels' 4-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals.
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