10/13/2003 7:06 PM ET
High-fives for Wells and the Yanks
Lefty tosses for New York in Game 5 at Fenway
BOSTON -- The groin injury David Wells suffered during Saturday's scrum at Fenway Park appears to be insignifcant and not the reason the big left-hander was bumped back a day in New York's rotation.
By Kevin T. Czerwinski / MLB.com
Wells was originally slated to start Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Sunday, but when rain washed that game away, manager Joe Torre and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre opted to go with Mike Mussina on Monday. Torre said the decision was more about keeping Mussina -- who started and lost Game One -- on a normal schedule than it was about Boomer's potentially cranky groin.
"He [Wells] felt something jumping out of the dugout the other night," Torre said. "I don't know what it was, a cramp or whatever. But he came to the ballpark yesterday [Sunday] and it was gone. Again, he was going to start last night."
Wells will now get the ball in a crucial Game 5 on Tuesday at Fenway. Boston, which evened the series with a 3-2 win Monday night, will counter with Derek Lowe.
Torre said that Wells' flexibility also made the decision to bump him back a day an easy one despite the fact that he will be pitching on nine days' rest. Torre seems to have no worries about the southpaw.
"Boomer has pitched -- he's had a week between starts before," Torre said. "Since he started throwing [side sessions] in the bullpen [late in the season] he's been more consistent. The fact that he got so close to game time last night and almost started, his preparation was part of it.
"The biggest reason, initially I said we were going to stay the same way and have Boomer pitch today. But looking at it after the game with Mel, we decided to stay with Mussina on his normal day because he's more of a control guy and we'll just try to get him into the routine that he's more comfortable with. It doesn't matter to Boomer."
Odd situations and Wells are not strange bedfellows. Yet Torre made a point on Monday of saying that Wells has gotten much better later in his career at handling any curveballs thrown his way, adding that he got some help from a former teammate in putting aside distractions.
"I think David Cone really helped Boomer a lot," Torre said. "They lockered next to each other. They hung out a lot. I think David gave him a lot of professional advice on handling negative stuff and handling negative emotions because Coney was so good. He was this frail-looking guy but he had a big bulldog heart in there. I certainly believe Coney made a big impression."
It will be interesting to see how Wells handles the crowd at Fenway, considering the twists and turns this series has taken. He isn't particularly fond of the building to begin with and this weekend may have only served to heighten those feelings.
"I would like to say [Boston] is a great city but I wish it was as wide open out there as it is [at Fenway]," Wells' said Saturday afternoon. "It's just someplace that I've always had difficulties and like I said, whenever they are ready to get rid of this place, let me push the button, get another stadium; I think they deserve it.
"It's great history [here]. It's great for the fans to come out and see a ballpark like this. I admire it in certain ways than others but like I said, I've just got to block that other stuff out and just go out and pitch my game."
Contrary to what he thinks about Fenway Park, he did okay there this season, going 1-0 in two starts with a 2.02 ERA. Add in the fact that he shut down the Red Sox on Sept. 7 at Yankee Stadium and it's hard to imagine anyone giving Boston more problems.
That September start proved to be one of the biggest of the season for the Bombers. The Red Sox had already won the first two games of a three-game set in the Bronx, closing the gap between themselves and New York to a game and a half in the American League East. But Wells allowed only an unearned run over 7 1/3 innings, sending the Yanks' Division-clinching drive into full gear.
"You have a game prior to that that wasn't too good and you follow with a game like that, it's every bit a confidence builder," Wells said. "They have got a great team out there. They have a good-hitting team and I know as long as I'm on, if I'm making my pitches, I can make it difficult for those guys.
"The bottom line is to just go out there and to be aggressive. It's something I've always done my whole career and nothing has really changed, so my approach to this team or any other team is the same."
That goes for whether he starts on seven, eight or nine days rest --cranky groin or not.
Kevin Czerwinski is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.