It went largely unnoticed in the excitement of the Zack Greinke deal, but the Angels activated Vernon Wells from the disabled list prior to last night’s game against the Rays.
Wells had been out since May 21 after fracturing his right thumb while stealing a base. He went 8-for-26 (.308) with two home runs, a double and three RBI in seven games during his recent minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Salt Lake.
Wells didn’t play in last night’s game and will have to get used to sitting on the bench regularly. According to Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register, Angels manager Mike Scioscia plans to use him in place of Kendrys Morales in the DH spot against left-handed pitching and in the outfield when when someone needs a day off.
Wells would naturally prefer to be in the lineup on an everyday basis, but he’s ready to accept to his new diminished role.
“At first, it was kind of hard,” Wells said. “Now — it just is what it is. You go out when you get a chance to play and approach the game like you did when you were a kid. Go out and have fun, try to help the team win.
“It’ll be different. Just as with anything as this game goes along, you make adjustments.”
Wells was batting .242/.282/.422 with six homers, 12 RBI through 38 games this season prior to the injury and has a .669 OPS in 671 plate appearances dating back to the start of last season. The 33-year-old is still owed $21 million in both 2013 and 2014.
On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”
There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.
It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:
On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.
“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”
One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.
None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”