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David Wells

Pitcher
Born: May 20, 1963 (1963-05-20) (age 46)
Torrance, California
Batted: Left Threw: Left 
MLB debut
June 30, 1987 for the Toronto Blue Jays
Last MLB appearance
September 28, 2007 for the Los Angeles Dodgers
Career statistics
Win–Loss record     239–157
Earned run average     4.13
Strikeouts     2,201
Teams
Career highlights and awards

David Lee Wells (born May 20, 1963 in Torrance, California) is a former Major League Baseball starting pitcher. Nicknamed "Boomer," Wells was considered to be one of the game's better left-handed pitchers, especially during his years with the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays. He is one of 18 pitchers to have pitched a perfect game in Major League Baseball. He is tied only with Kenny Lofton for appearing in the post-season with six different teams. Wells was a broadcaster on TBS Sunday baseball broadcasts during 2009.

Contents

Professional career

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1987–1996

Wells was a journeyman starter for the first eight seasons of his career. He debuted for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1987 as a reliever and did not secure a job as a full-time starter until he was 30 years old, despite pitching well most of the time and helping the Blue Jays win a World Series. He was released by the Blue Jays during spring training in 1993 and was signed by the Tigers almost immediately.

He emerged as a top-flight pitcher in 1995, when he was 32. After starting the year at 10-3 for the last-place Detroit Tigers and making his first All-Star Game appearance, he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for C. J. Nitkowski, Mark Lewis, and minor leaguer Dave Tuttle. He finished that season with a 16-8 record and a 3.26 ERA. At the end of the season he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for Curtis Goodwin and minor leaguer Trovin Valdez. In 1996 he pitched then-career high 224 innings but finished with an 11–14 record.

1997–1998

In 1997, he signed as a free agent with the New York Yankees, his favorite team because of a lifelong interest in baseball legend Babe Ruth. He asked for uniform number 3, and was of course denied, as the Babe's number had been long retired. He ended up taking 33 for the Yankees. On June 28, 1997, Wells took the mound wearing an authentic 1934 Babe Ruth hat, which Wells bought for $35,000. Manager Joe Torre made Wells take it off after the first inning because it didn't conform to uniform standards. Wells then blew a 3–0 lead as the Cleveland Indians won 12–8. After posting a 16-10 mark in 1997, Wells pitched brilliantly in the Yankees' record-setting 1998 season. He rang up an 18-4 record, finished fifth in the league in ERA (3.49) and was third in voting for the Cy Young Award.

Perfect Game

On May 17, 1998, Wells became the 15th pitcher in major league history to pitch a perfect game when he blanked the Minnesota Twins, 4–0. Wells attended the same San Diego high school, Point Loma High School, as Don Larsen, whose perfect game for the Yankees in the 1956 World Series remains the only no-hitter ever thrown in postseason play and was until then the only perfect game thrown by a Yankee. David Cone would add a third Yankee perfect game in 1999. Wells claims that he threw the perfect game while being hung over.[1]

1999–2000

After the season, Wells returned to the Blue Jays as part of a trade for Roger Clemens, along with Homer Bush and Graeme Lloyd. He continued to win north of the border, with records of 17–10 and 20–8 over the next two years. He and pitcher Matt DeWitt were then traded to the Chicago White Sox, in a deal that was quickly mired in controversy. The primary player being traded by the White Sox, starting pitcher Mike Sirotka, was injured at the time of the deal, and he never pitched in the major leagues again. Toronto's general manager, Gord Ash, had not made the deal contingent on the results of a medical examination, however, and MLB ruled in favor of the White Sox. The Blue Jays thus received only Kevin Beirne, Brian Simmons, and minor leaguer Mike Williams, and the mistake ultimately cost Ash his job.

2001–2002

The deal did not turn out particularly well for the White Sox, either, as Wells struggled with back problems in 2001 and pitched only 100⅔ innings. After the season's end, he returned to the Yankees, a deal that was again immersed in controversy as he had already reached an oral agreement to join the Arizona Diamondbacks. Despite having lost some velocity from his fastball, he retained his excellent curveball and his control, and posted an outstanding 19–7 record in 2002.

2003

Wells was the subject of some controversy prior to the 2003 season, when his autobiography Perfect I'm Not: Boomer on Beer, Brawls, Backaches and Baseball, was published. The book upset the Yankees' management, and Wells was fined $100,000 by the team for disparaging comments which appeared in it. One of them included himself having a hangover when he pitched his perfect game. Among the other controversial statements were claims that he strengthened his pitching arm as a youth by throwing rocks at homeless people and that his minor league team, the Kinston Blue Jays, had segregated stands in 1983 despite ample evidence to the contrary. Amusingly, Wells claimed to have been misquoted in the book, which was presumably penned by a ghost writer. The problems didn't carry over to the field, however. Wells posted a 15–7 record and helped the Yankees win another pennant.

On September 28, 2003, the final day of the regular season, Wells earned the 200th win of his career in a game managed by Clemens, who had won his 300th game earlier in the season and was thought to be retiring from baseball (Clemens ended up delaying his retirement). Regular Yankees manager Joe Torre let Clemens manage the final game of the regular season, and Clemens pulled Wells from the game in the eighth inning.

He was also criticized by Yankee fans for not being able to pitch during Game 5 of the 2003 World Series. He started the game, but left during the first inning because of a bad backache, which caused Torre to use his bullpen to finish the game. The Yankees ended up losing the game and the series.

2004

On January 1, 2004, Wells was signed as a free agent by the San Diego Padres to a one-year contract. Wells posted a 12–8 record with a 3.73 ERA to start off his second stint in the National League.

On December 11, 2004, Wells signed a two-year deal with the Boston Red Sox and took the uniform number 3, reminding many of another full-bodied, gregarious, left-handed Sox pitcher who wore the same number in the past, Babe Ruth.

2005

Getting off to a bad start, many fans questioned the decision of general manager Theo Epstein, but after coming off of the DL and getting rocked in his first start back in Oakland - and changing his uniform number from 3 to 16 - David Wells became the same dominating pitcher he was in the past. He went on to post a 15-7 record, with a 4.45 ERA. Wells pitched much better than his ERA may show, but had a few very poor outings, which caused his ERA to "balloon." After the 2005 season, Wells requested a trade back to the West Coast, but he eventually withdrew that request and resigned himself to one last year pitching for the Red Sox.

2006

On March 28, 2006, the Red Sox announced that Wells would begin 2006 on the disabled list, as he was still recovering from surgery performed on his right knee. After pitching one game on April 12, he was once again placed on the 15-day disabled list. He announced that if his knee does not improve he would retire. Wells came off the disabled list on May 26, to make his second start of the year against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Wells pitching for the Red Sox in 2006

On August 31, 2006, with the Red Sox post-season chances fading, Wells' wish of finishing his career playing for a West Coast team and a playoff contender was granted when he was traded back to the Padres for top catching prospect George Kottaras.

Following the 2006 season, Wells filed for free agency. For players who are already planning on retiring, this is a customary move in case one changes his mind. Wells' agent had stated the pitcher will keep his options open but his physical condition will play a large part in making the final decision whether or not to return for another season.[2] Eventually, Wells decided to stay with the Padres, agreeing in principle on a one-year deal worth $3 million in base salary with a possible $4 million more in incentives.

2007

On March 18, 2007, it was revealed that Wells has been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. This form of diabetes is more closely associated with lifestyle factors, such as diet, but the condition of people with a genetic disposition for diabetes can be exacerbated with chronic high blood sugar, as insulin resistance can be an adaptation of insulin in the wake of too-high blood sugar over time.[3].

On August 8, the Padres announced they would cut ties with Wells when Chris Young was ready to come off the disabled list. [4]

On August 23, 2007, Wells was signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers. His first start with the Dodgers was on August 26 against the New York Mets. He pitched 5 innings and allowed 2 earned runs. Wells also reached first base on a bunt single, scored a run, and earned the victory. He was the oldest pitcher to start a game for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

On September 13, 2007, against his former team, the San Diego Padres, Wells had his first multi-hit game of his 21 year career at the age of 44. He hit a single and a double off former teammate Greg Maddux.

2008

After the 2007 season he filed for free agency.

On August 2, 2008, Wells took part in the 62nd Annual Old Timers Day at Yankee Stadium, where he said that he was not going to officially retire, but admitted that he was probably done.

Criticism

David Wells says that steroids users should be banned from baseball after the first offense. Wells is sometimes criticized for a lack of tact. For example, he will sometimes speculate on which players are using steroids- a topic that many players consider to be taboo.

Career bests

  • Wins in a Season: 20, with Toronto Blue Jays in 2000
  • Strikeouts in a Season: 169, with Toronto Blue Jays in 2000
  • Best Cy Young Result: 3rd, with New York Yankees in 1998
  • Strikeouts in One Game: 16 with New York Yankees, against Oakland Athletics, July 30, 1997
  • Innings Pitched in One Season: 231.2, with Toronto Blue Jays in 1999
  • Best Single Season ERA as a Starting Pitcher: 3.14, with Toronto Blue Jays in 1990
  • Fewest Walks Per 9 Innings in a Season: .85, with New York Yankees in 2003

See also

References

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Kenny Rogers
Perfect game pitcher
May 17, 1998
Succeeded by
David Cone
Preceded by
Marquis Grissom
American League Championship Series MVP
1998
Succeeded by
Orlando Hernández
Preceded by
Randy Johnson
Pedro Martínez
American League All-Star Game Starting pitcher
1998
2000
Succeeded by
Pedro Martínez
Roger Clemens
Preceded by
Pedro Martínez
American League Wins Champion
2000
(with Tim Hudson)
Succeeded by
Mark Mulder

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