Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia said it without any apparent trace of irony.
"He's a much better player than we've seen the last two years," Scioscia said of outfielder Vernon Wells.
It would be hard for Wells to be worse than he has been since joining the Angels before the 2011 season in a trade that might go down as the worst in franchise history if only for the contract baggage Wells brought with him. He is making $21 million this season and has two more years at that salary left on his contract.
For that, the Angels are getting a reserve outfielder. The arrival of rookie Mike Trout and the emergence of Mark Trumbo as an everyday outfielder (not to mention the presence of Peter Bourjos on the bench) has shunted Wells into a diminished role since he returned from a thumb injury. However, Wells has begun to give the Angels at least some value in that role.
In his past 12 starts since Aug. 11, Wells is batting .314 (11-for-35) with four homers and 12 RBI. The figures are impressive given that he was hitting .219 with six homers and 12 RBI in 44 previous games this season.
"It was difficult at first (to accept being a reserve), but you live for today," said Wells, who went 0-for-4 Tuesday in the Angels' 6-1 win over the A's at Oakland. "You can't really worry about what's going to take place after that. It's the best way to go through life -- just to enjoy the moment, and when you get opportunities, take full advantage of them.
"I feel like I just need to go out and have fun. When I'm having fun playing the game, things come a lot easier than when you're thinking about what your numbers are and what the struggles have been. That kind of goes back to just living in the moment. You can't go back and change what's taken place over the last two years, but we can make this a memorable September. That's my focus."