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07/25/08 8:37 PM ET

Wells takes step toward return to Jays

Injured center fielder joins team in Toronto, takes BP

TORONTO -- Vernon Wells has taken another step towards a return to the Blue Jays lineup. The injured center fielder, who had previously been rehabbing in Florida, joined the team in Toronto on Friday and took batting practice prior to the game against the Mariners.

"Florida is a little depressing," Wells said with a slight grin. "Being there by yourself -- I'd rather be [in Toronto] with the guys. You feel like you're still part of the team."

The batting practice for Wells was also significant in that it was the first time he had faced live pitching since suffering a Grade 2 sprain of his left hamstring on July 9, which landed him on the 15-day disabled list.

The initial timetable set out by the Toronto medical staff estimated that Wells would be sidelined anywhere from four to six weeks. While the batting practice was a positive sign for Wells, he would still not speculate on a date for his return.

"Obviously I'm going to push the envelope," he said. "That's just by nature -- just try to get back as quick as possible. As long as everything we keep doing [continues] and there are no re-injuries and no inflammation in that area, then hope fully it will be sooner than later."

Aside from partaking in batting practice on Friday, Wells also did some minor running on the field. He was also cleared to begin strengthening exercises on his injured leg.

With all this progress though, the 29-year-old Wells is remaining cautious.

"Obviously, the worst thing I could do now is get it inflamed again and try to do too much," he said. "So we're gradually getting into things and today's just another day we're going to try to go out and do more stuff and see how it feels."

When Wells initially suffered the injury, it was revealed to him that he had torn a tendon in his left leg. After receiving mixed answers from various doctors, Wells did not rule out the possibility of surgery to fully repair the tendon.

"I've learned that when you talk to doctors, there's a lot of rules of thought," he said. "A lot of people think different things. ... I've honestly gotten answers, 'Yes you'll need surgery,' and 'No, it'll heal itself.'

"It's a tendon that you don't need," Wells continued. "A tendon that they use when they reconstruct the ACL. They take that tendon out and then [place it in the ACL area]. I almost kind of wished it tore and gotten it over with and not have any nagging injuries. That's another thing, they said if I come back early it's going to be nagging me for a while."

For now though, Wells will focus on strengthening the left hamstring in an effort to return to the Jays lineup. He was asked whether his goal was to come back as a center fielder or in the designated hitter's spot, where he would not need to put excess stress on the injury.

"I would try to get back in any capacity that I could, to be honest with you," Wells replied.

David Singh is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.