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

“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

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.