Wells' hot start beginning to look routine
Veteran outfielder hit his sixth home run on Friday vs. Halos
TORONTO -- What began as a hot start has evolved into a reoccurring trend for Blue Jays outfielder Vernon Wells, who hit his sixth home run of the season against Angels starting pitcher Jered Weaver Friday night.
It took the veteran outfielder only 11 games to reach the six-home run plateau, a feat that took him 70 games (until June 20) last season. Wells, who slugged over 20 home runs in six of his first seven full seasons, hit a career-low 15 home runs in '09.
Wells attributes his rediscovered success to increased dedication and putting himself in a positive frame of mind.
"It's a different year," Wells said. "[Dwyane] Murphy and I worked really hard together trying to get everything right, my timing right, my swing right. We've been going at it hard and we'll continue to do that until I can get as consistent as possible."
In the past few years Wells has received heavy scrutiny for being too undisciplined at the plate, but Wells insists that he has not altered his aggressive approach.
"That's always been my game." Wells said. "People love it when you get hits, and people hate it when you don't. That's the way it's going to be."
In fact, half of Wells' six home runs this year have come on the first pitch, with only one going beyond the first three pitches thrown in the count.
With the home run against the Angels on Friday, Wells ties Joe Carter for third on the Blue Jays all-time RBI list (736), inching closer to long time Jays first baseman Carlos Delgado (1,058).
"Joe had the biggest hit in the franchise's history," Wells said. "He's obviously a name that everyone loves in this city and it's an honor to be there with him. Hopefully one of these days I'll get close to Carlos."
Wells is batting .385 with six home runs and 11 RBIs this season going into Saturday's tilt against the Angels.
Lewis looking forward to life in Canada
TORONTO -- It's a good thing for outfielder Fred Lewis that the Blue Jays are home for several more days. He had a week's worth of traveling just getting to Toronto after he was traded to the Jays by the Giants on Thursday. The 29-year-old from Wiggins, Miss., had to go home to pick up his passport before making his first trip to Canada, arriving at Rogers Centre on Friday during the Blue Jays' 7-5 loss to the Angels.
"I don't really know much about Canada so I'm just learning," Lewis said, his luggage still beside his locker. "It took me almost an hour [to clear customs]. I had to find a website that had something to do with me in it and had to show them that. I had my passport there but that wasn't enough. It was kind of a long day."
He was with Triple-A Fresno on a rehabilitation assignment playing Toronto's Triple-A team in Las Vegas. After he heard of the trade, one he had requested, he said, "It was like music to my ears"
That's when the trip began.
"It started at 11:30 [Thursday] night, I flew from Vegas," he said. "I flew to Atlanta to Gulfport [Mississippi] and from Gulfport to Charlotte to here."
The left-handed hitter wanted the trade because he felt he might have more playing time elsewhere.
"I just wanted a better opportunity to play every day so I'd get more at-bats," Lewis said. "I got what I asked for. ... I was very excited when I got the news."
He has played mostly in left field in the Majors, although he says he can play the other outfield positions.
"Coming up through the Minor Leagues, I played more center than left," Lewis said. "But now I've been basically stuck in left."
When he was asked if his possible role has been discussed with him, Lewis said, "Just staying patient right now and just waiting on my time."
Snider showing signs of development
TORONTO -- The maturing process continues for Blue Jays outfielder Travis Snider.
In the eighth inning of Friday's 7-5 loss to the Angels, he felt he should have made the catch on Maicer Izturis's line two-run double. It was Snider's first game this season in right field. He usually plays left. Manager Cito Gaston didn't blame Snider, because he has played outfield and feels that a line drive right at a fielder is a difficult play. But Snider made no excuses.
"It's a play that you can make," Snider said. "I don't think I touched it. I broke in and wasn't able to make up the two or three steps that I took in."
The maturing process showed up in the bottom of the eighth. The tendency for a young player trying to atone for a mistake might have been to try to hit the ball out of the park. But he didn't try to force the issue and took a walk.
"I don't want to credit myself too much for one at-bat like that," Snider said. "In those situations you do want to come up and make up for a mistake like that. I wasn't able to get a pitch to put a good swing on it. That's where developing as a hitter, you're going to understand if you're not going to get your pitch that you've got to throw the bat and let the next guy go at it."
Snider stole second and scored on a single in the four-run inning.
"I feel better [at the plate]," Snider said. "I'm making contact, and had a few good swings here, a few good swings there. A couple of tough breaks. It's something I've been through before. I know the way to work out of it is to keep trying and working hard. I went through it last year, the pressing side of things, and I saw how that worked out and it didn't work out very well. It's all part of understanding that this is a tough game and to keep working at it until you figure it out."
Jays growing accustomed to new surface
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are playing on a new surface this season, AstroTurf GameDay Grass, which replaces the five-year-old FieldTurf.
"It's not bad," said Jose Bautista who has experience on the new turf as a third baseman and a right fielder. "It's a little bouncy. And the length of the [fibre] -- it's a little long but they said it's supposed to be like that at the beginning and once we start playing on it it will go down.
"I don't have any complaints. We'll see. It feels a little more comfortable on my feet and on my body."
The other significant difference is that there are fewer seams on the new surface.
"It helps, a lot fewer seams, especially for the infielders," Bautista said.
While the surface has more bounce Bautista said it is not that much slower than the previous field.
"It skips a little more but they said it might go down a little," he said.
Larry Millson is a contributor to MLB.com. James Hall is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.