06/23/2003 6:17 PM ET
Wells named AL Co-Player of Week
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
2003 Player of the Week winners
TORONTO -- For most of the season, Vernon Wells has been content to slug in Carlos Delgado's ample shadow. In the last week, though, he took over the mantle as one of baseball's hottest hitters. For his production over that span, Wells was named the AL's Pepsi Co-Player of the Week. He shares that distinction with Corey Koskie, Minnesota's third baseman.
Wells has been tremendous over the last week, batting .476 (10-for-21) with five home runs and a 1.286 slugging percentage. He's also riding a career-high 14-game hitting streak and has homered in four straight games. Amazingly, Wells went deep in Sunday's game despite swinging with an extremely sore elbow.
The outfielder was hit by a pitch in Saturday's game and didn't expect to play on Sunday. Toronto manager Carlos Tosca didn't expect him either -- the original lineup card didn't have Wells on it, but a successful batting practice changed that.
"Last night, I didn't think I had much of a chance," Wells said on Sunday. "The swelling has gone down now, but it's still a little swollen. If it's going to hurt, it's going to hurt. You just have to play through it."
He did exactly that and plans to do the same on Monday night. If he hits another home run, he'll join just one other Blue Jay in the franchise record books. Only Jose Cruz, who homered in six straight games in 2001, has gone past four straight games. Here's another telling indicator of how well Wells has played in the last week: He played in five games and notched at least two hits and one RBI in all of them.
For the season, Wells ranks high on the AL charts in several categories. He's second in RBIs (76), second in extra-bases (46) and third in runs scored (59). He's also batting .308 with 19 home runs, and all of those numbers are on pace to easily beat last year's totals.
In 2002, Wells became the youngest Blue Jay (23 years old) to drive in 100 runs. This year, Toronto's center fielder has been a rock-steady presence in the lineup. He's the only Blue Jay to play in every game of the season, and he's batted exclusively from the third spot. Not only that, he's provided his pitchers with excellent defense.
This is the first time in his career that Wells has won an award. If he keeps this up, he may have another distinction waiting for him in a month, and that's an engraved invitation to the All-Star Game.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.