Wells starts seven-game suspension for argument with umpire

SAN DIEGO -- Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander David Wells
dropped the appeal of his seven-game suspension he drew while with
the rival San Diego Padres and began serving the punishment
Saturday night.

Wells will miss his next scheduled start Wednesday at the
Chicago Cubs. That start will be made by left-hander Eric Stults.
Stults was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas on Friday to make room on
the roster for right-hander Esteban Loaiza, who's scheduled to
start Monday at Chicago. Stults will be eligible to rejoin the club
on Tuesday when the 51s' season is over.

Wells will be eligible to return next Saturday during a series
at San Francisco, and could start either that day or the following

The Dodgers entered Saturday night in third place in the NL
West, four games behind the Padres. They were also four games back
in the wild-card race.

The 44-year-old Wells was suspended for his animated argument
with an umpire who ejected him on July 7 against the Atlanta
Braves, a scene that ended with the pitcher hurling a ball into the
screen as he left the field. Wells was also fined $3,000. On Aug.
1, commissioner Bud Selig hit Wells with another $5,000 fine for
criticizing the original punishment.

"I don't want to get myself into more trouble," Wells said
when asked for comment as the Dodgers came off the field following
batting practice prior to Saturday night's game against the Padres.
But, he added, "I had no choice."

Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said the decision to drop
the appeal was made by Wells and his agent.

"They felt it was best to start serving it right away and not
go through the appeal process. We concurred," Colletti said.

"If they believed it was going to be seven games no matter
what, then it's better off serving it now and get it behind you
rather than have some wild-card date that lies ahead," Colletti

Wells was designated for assignment by his hometown Padres on
Aug. 9. He agreed to a deal with the Dodgers on Aug. 23 and won his
first start with them a week ago Sunday night at the New York Mets.

He pitched five strong innings against the Padres on Friday
night but got a no-decision in a 6-4 loss.

Wells was ejected by umpire Ed Hickox for questioning calls in
the fourth inning of an 8-5 Padres win over Atlanta after Jeff Francoeur hit a two-run homer.

In handing down the original punishment, baseball discipline
czar Bob Watson cited Wells' "violent and aggressive actions."

Selig was displeased with several comments Wells made to
reporters on July 12 after he was notified of the fine, and with
the fact that the big left-hander taped a letter from Watson to the
clubhouse wall for reporters and teammates to read.

In criticizing Watson, Wells said the game is changing so much
that "pretty soon we'll all put skirts on and we're all going to
play softball."

Another comment that bugged the commissioner was when Wells
called Watson "a henchman and a yes man for Bud Selig."