<
>

Padres, Wells finalize one-year deal

SAN DIEGO -- New Padres manager Bud Black ran into his No. 5
starter on Tuesday at Petco Park and liked what he saw.

"He looked great," Black said about David "Boomer" Wells,
whose one-year deal with his hometown team was finally announced 11
days after the sides agreed to terms. "There was an energy to him,
which is very positive."

Wells, who turns 44 on May 20, and the Padres reached the deal
on Jan. 19. Because the left-hander was out of town most of last
week, he wasn't able to take his physical until Monday.

"We're excited to have him aboard," Black said. "Not only
does he bring, first and foremost, the ability to win games, but we
think he brings a presence to the club, based on where he's been
and what he's done."

Wells will earn $3 million in base pay, and can make another $4
million if he stays healthy and starts 27 games -- 14 more than he
did last year, when he battled knee injuries while with the Boston
Red Sox.

The Padres obtained Wells from Boston for the stretch run on
Aug. 31. He went 1-2 with a 3.49 ERA in five starts for the
two-time NL West champions before losing Game 2 of the division
series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Wells said then he was leaning toward retirement, adding that it
would take a "stupid" offer in terms of money for him to come
back.

Wells wasn't available for comment on Tuesday.

"He's a competitor," said Black, a former big league pitcher.
"I think he likes the action of being around a ballclub. I still
believe he likes going out between the lines and competing. I think
he still has the ability to win ballgames and help a ballclub."

Including his 2-0 loss to the Cardinals in October, Wells is
10-5 with a 3.17 ERA in 27 career postseason appearances, including
17 starts. He's been to the World Series three times, winning it
with Toronto in 1992 and the New York Yankees in 1998, when they
swept the Padres.

"I don't think he wanted to go out the way he went out, losing
a playoff game here in San Diego," Padres general manager Kevin
Towers said. "I think he wants to go out with a bigger bang, go
deeper in the postseason, win a few postseason games for his
hometown team. If he retires, he wants to go out in greater fashion
than last year."

Early last season, Wells took a line drive off his right knee,
which had been surgically repaired the previous offseason.

"You look at last year, and the injuries were kind of
unfortunate," Towers said. "He should have a fresh arm."

Wells went on an African safari after the Padres were eliminated
by the Cardinals, and Towers said that helped get the pitcher in
shape.

"Doing that walkabout in Africa for three weeks, chasing down
zebra and wild boar, took some weight off him," Towers said.

Wells rejoins a rotation that includes Jake Peavy, Chris Young,
Clay Hensley and Greg Maddux, a four-time Cy Young Award winner who
agreed to a $10 million, one-year deal in December.

Black and Wells were teammates for the final few weeks of the
1990 season with Toronto.

"You could tell even then as a young pitcher he had a lot of
personality," Black said of the free-spirited Wells.

"He's a very talkative guy. I like that he tells it like it is.
We talked yesterday about his impact on the club, especially the
pitchers, and what his experience can lend to a lot of the guys on
the pitching staff. From everything I've heard from past teammates,
he's a good guy to have on a team."

Wells' return makes the Padres' pitching staff decidedly older
and more experienced. Maddux turns 41 on April 14. Closer Trevor
Hoffman, baseball's career leader with 482 saves, is 39.

"You put him and Maddux together and you add in Hoffman, and
there's three guys on the pitching staff that are going to be, in a
lot of different ways, very influential," Black said.

In a big league career dating to 1987, Wells is 230-148 with a
4.07 ERA for Toronto, Detroit, Cincinnati, Baltimore, the Yankees,
Chicago White Sox, Boston and San Diego.

As part of his new deal with the Padres, he can make $3 million
in bonuses based on starts, divided evenly for each start from
11-27. He also can make $1 million in bonuses based on time on the
active roster: $250,000 each for 40, 80, 120 and 150 days.