08/02/08 3:58 PM ET
Life different now for former Yank Wells
Boomer reflects on moments with Bombers on Old Timers Day
By Willie Bans / MLB.com
Pitching is something the former Yankees lefty isn't doing, although he still feels he could.
And when no team called him in the offseason to have him take the mound for a 22nd season, reality set in: that as much as he loved playing, those "finer things in life," as he called them before Old-Timers' Day on Saturday, would soon reach permanency.
"When you don't find a job, you try to find something to occupy your mind, because you go nuts because you're thinking about you should be out there doing what you got to do," Wells said.
So this is his life now. He hasn't picked up a ball in three months. Hasn't paid attention to the game too much, especially not in Fiji the past two weeks, where he was more fascinated by the waves than the progress of his formers teams --- Toronto, Detroit, Cincinnati, Baltimore, New York, Chicago White Sox, San Diego and Boston.
But he did jump at the chance to be a part of this afternoon at Yankee Stadium, even if "it makes me feel old now."
And much has changed since he was first drafted by the Blue Jays in 1987. Clubhouses aren't as tight, he said, and pitchers aren't used the same way, a 100-pitch limit for most of them that's too short and strict, he believes.
"But, not my problem any more," said Wells, who was 239-157 with a 4.13 ERA and 2,201 strikeouts.
Now he can sit back and observe more. He watched his 1998 perfect game for the first time on May 20 during a birthday party celebrating his 45 years and that flawless performance against the Twins at Yankee Stadium 10 years ago.
"I got goose bumps," Wells said.
Maybe he also got them when he was introduced at the Old-Timers' game, receiving loud support, the kind he got from the Yankee faithful during his two stints (1997-98, 2002-03) and quite unlike what he received as Boston hurler from 2005-06.
Wells will always welcome those cheers from fans of a team he feels can use a boost in its pitching rotation. But this is the closest he can get to the Yankees, one club, like many others, who passed on Boomer one last time.
"[Teams] want to go with youth and stay within the organization," Well said. "But don't [complain] if you're not going to win, because there are guys out there that can still play.
"Give them a call once in a while."
Willie Bans is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.