Has there ever been a less-anticipated return of a $21 million player? Doubtful.
OF Vernon Wells was activated from the DL on Saturday, rejoining an Angels team that no longer has any need for him. In the two months since Wells tore a ligament in his right thumb, Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo have emerged as All-Stars and core pieces as every-day starters in the outfield. And 37-year-old Torii Hunter has played like a rejuvenated version of himself.
It leaves little room for Wells, the Angels' highest-paid player with that $21 million salary (this year and each of the next two seasons).
"In this game, you always have kids coming along and some of them are going to be special. I think we've seen a couple come along here that are special," Wells said, referring to the ascendance of Trout and Trumbo. "You continue to evolve in this game. ? This is just a small part of my career and we'll see what happens from here."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia had a private meeting with Wells before the outfielder left on a minor-league injury-rehabilitation assignment two weeks ago. The Angels manager outlined a much reduced role for Wells in which he will platoon with Kendrys Morales, starting against left-handed pitching either at DH or in left field with Trumbo at DH, and make occasional starts in the outfield to spell others (most likely Hunter).
"It's obviously tough," Scioscia said of the adjustment ahead for Wells. "There's definitely an understanding of where our team is right now and what his role will be. That doesn't mean it isn't going to expand from that. But you look at the way we've been playing and particularly the way the guys in the outfield have been playing, there's no doubt you want to keep that rolling. Vernon understands this."
Wells started both Saturday and Sunday in left field and went hitless in seven at-bats against the Rays.