Angels’ Wells up for challenge to play left field

Vernon Wells has a new goal this year, and it’s to excel in a

new spot.

Wells won three Gold Gloves while playing center field with

Toronto. The Blue Jays traded him to the Los Angeles Angels during

the offseason and plan to play him in left.

”When you get to a position, a different position, you want to

be the best at that position,” Wells said Friday. ”If I’m going

to end up playing left, I want to be the best left fielder in the


The Angels have speedy youngster Peter Bourjos in center and

nine-time Gold Glover Torii Hunter in right.

The 32-year-old Wells has a history of hamstring problems and

there were whispers he’d lost a step or two.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia doesn’t sound concerned at all.

”Talking with other managers, seeing him (and) his range

against us, seeing the way he was controlling the gaps, there’s no

doubt that he can play center field and play it at a high level,

much the same way we feel Torii can,” Scioscia said.

”Certainly, there are going to be some angles and getting balls

into the corner that as a center fielder you’re not as in tuned

with. But as athletic as Vernon is and as much talent as he has, it

should be a position that he settles into very comfortably and

we’re excited to start putting those pieces together.”

Scioscia expects the Angels’ outfield defensive will improve

this season, and sees Wells adding a lot.

”He’s going to virtually shut down a first-to-third situation

as well as he, hopefully, can play left field,” Scioscia said.

”With Torii in right and Bourjos in center doing what he does and

Vernon in left, we’re going to control a lot of the baserunning

aspects that were troubling to us at some points early in the


”You’re not going to impact a game as much from a defensive end

from left field the same way you are in center,” he said.

”There’s an advantage to having a plus defensive left fielder

which we feel we will have. Vernon’s defense would show up more if

he’s playing center field. So, there’s less pressure for him to

have to do that on a daily basis.”

Wells is close friend of Texas infielder Michael Young, who has

asked the team to trade him. The Angels are one of the clubs Young

selected as a team to which he’d accept a trade.

Wells is not thrilled with how the Rangers are going about their

business with Young.

”I would love to have him here, let’s put it that way,” Well

said. ”He’s having to deal with it, unfortunately, publicly. It

creates all kinds of problems. It’s been handled poorly on their

end, I’ll say that.”