Blue Jays-Rangers Preview

Last season was one Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Vernon

Wells would likely prefer to forget. This season is getting off to

a much more memorable start for the two-time All-Star.

Batting .714 with three homers through two games, Wells looks to

continue his power surge Thursday afternoon in Arlington, where the

Blue Jays and Texas Rangers conclude a three-game set.

In the third season of a seven-year, $126 million deal, Wells

had an underwhelming 2009, batting .260 with 15 homers and 66 RBIs.

Offseason surgery to repair damaged cartilage in his left wrist,

which he broke in 2008, has the 31-year-old Arlington native and

resident looking much stronger in 2010.

Wells went 3 for 4 with a homer and three RBIs in Monday’s 5-4

season-opening loss and followed that with a pair of home runs and

three more RBIs Wednesday in a 7-4 victory. It was the 19th

multi-homer game of his career and first since Sept. 28, 2008, at

Baltimore.

“It’s just trying not to miss your pitches when you get them,

that’s the biggest thing. So far so good,” said Wells, who had

three homers all of last April. “There are only 160 more games to

go. I don’t think I’ll keep this pace up.”

Left-hander Ricky Romero is probably hoping Wells is wrong.

Romero had 141 strikeouts in 178 innings as a rookie in 2009, but

also walked 79. He finished 13-9 with a 4.30 ERA in 29 starts.

“Strikeouts are going to come,” Romero told the Blue Jays’

official Web site. “Whether they come or not, if at the end of the

day I have zero walks, that works for me.”

Romero, though, walked nine in 19 innings this spring.

He will make his second career start against Texas. In a 1-0

loss in Arlington on June 11, Romero walked two and yielded five

hits and a run over 6 1/3 innings.

Rangers manager Ron Washington gives the ball to left-hander

C.J. Wilson, who makes his first start since his 2005 rookie

season.

Wilson went 5-6 with a 2.81 ERA while making a career-high 74

appearances last season and was a solid set-up man for Frank

Francisco. Wilson also converted 14 of 18 save opportunities as the

Rangers closer had three stints on the disabled list.

This spring, though, Wilson made a successful transition from

reliever to starter, striking out a team-high 22 in 25 innings. In

his final spring training start Friday, Wilson struck out four in

five innings of no-hit ball against Kansas City.

“I’m doing everything I can to establish myself as a winning

pitcher at the front of a game as I have at the back end,” he told

the Rangers’ official Web site.

Wilson went 0-1 with a save in five appearances against Toronto

in 2009.

After giving up four hits and blowing the save Monday with two

runs allowed in the ninth, Blue Jays closer Jason Frasor struck out

two in a scoreless ninth Wednesday.

Vladimir Guerrero, who signed a one-year deal with Texas in the

offseason after spending the previous six with the Angels, hit his

first homer for the Rangers on Wednesday and has four hits in seven

at-bats in the series. Guerrero is batting .408 with three home

runs and six RBIs in his last 12 games versus Toronto.