Blue Jays snap four-game skid

Aaron Hill makes the double play on sliding Jason Bartlett in the eighth inning of action between...

Aaron Hill makes the double play on sliding Jason Bartlett in the eighth inning of action between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays at the Rogers Centre on Wednesday, July 1. (Dave Abel/Sun Media)

MIKE RUTSEY, Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:18 PM ET

Vernon Wells spent Canada Day just like the majority of the nation’s population — he had most of the day off.

While his teammates went out in their spiffy red Canada Day uniforms and snapped a four-game losing streak with a 5-0 victory over Tampa, Wells was given a mental break day by manager Cito Gaston. He wasn’t supposed to play but came into the game in the ninth as a defensive replacement.

When Wells returns to the lineup Thursday in New York against the Yankees he will be back in centre field but where he bats in the lineup is anybody’s guess. He won’t be third or fourth, those spots being nailed down by Adam Lind and Scott Rolen, respectively.

The best bet is fifth or sixth.

Gaston promised Tuesday that changes would be made due to lack of production of certain hitters with Wells at the core of the discontent along with Alex Rios.

Wells, though, by virtue of his tenure and mega contract, is on point when it comes to the disgruntlement of both the fans and the front office.

Wells, who is in a 2-for-19 rut and is 8-for-32 on the homestand, knows it and accepts it. He doesn’t offer excuses and doesn’t complain.

“Cito and I have talked and he wanted to give me a day today to just kind of give the mind a break,” Wells said of his holiday yesterday. “He said there’s going to be some changes made and I completely understand where he’s coming from. I haven’t produced like I expect myself to and I feel I’ve left them no choice but to try to sort some things out.”

He also doesn’t think he’s being made a scapegoat for the team’s swoon that has seen them lose seven of their past 12.

“No, I just haven’t performed the way I should be,” Wells said. “I’m one of the pieces of the puzzle that needs to make this team get to where it needs to be and I haven’t done my part. A lot of it should be on my shoulders.”

As to why he has struggled so much of late — In June he hit .212 with two homers and 11 RBIS — Wells has no answers.

“You try and figure it out, each day you think this is the day, this is the at-bat where things are going to change,” Wells said. “It’s just a matter of working as hard as you can and watching as much film as possible and figure out what the deal is.”

With the Jays now in the crunch part of their season, the burden on Wells is that much greater.

“Being in the middle of the lineup I’m supposed to be the person that’s doing the damage,” he said. “Each day it’s been frustrating when I haven’t come through. Today is equalling as frustrating as three weeks ago. I don’t think there’s been too many days this year where there hasn’t been a frustrating aspect to it.”

One positive aspect is that there’s no bitter feelings between the manager and player.

“He’s always been straight up and forward with me since day one,” Wells said. “It’s been an open relationship.”

Meanwhile, Gaston was evasive when asked if he knows where he’ll slot Wells in New York.

“No not really,” he said. “I’ll think about it and see what I can come up with.

“You have to put him somewhere where he’s not embarrassed or you put him so low he’s not getting enough at-bats either. We need him to hit. We need him and Rios to hit.”

If they don’t the Jays have no shot, except at a fourth-place finish.

mike.rutsey@sunmedia.ca


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