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Wells draws eyes, throws 0s

By BOB PUTNAM, MIKE READLING

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 14, 1999


DUNEDIN -- Seven photographers stood in a row behind home plate, and the crowd at Dunedin Stadium applauded when the Blue Jays headed onto the field for the sixth inning Saturday.

The attention was centered around LHP David Wells, who made his spring debut after being sidelined two weeks with a strained back.

* * *

"The biggest thing I got out of today was relief," Wells said. "I'm sure some people wondered when I was going to come back and pitch. That was a molecule in my decision. My health was more important than the people's choice. But when the bell rings, I'll be healthy and be ready to go. It's nice to know you can go out and still get guys out."

Wells' outing lasted only one inning, but he was perfect. He struck out two and threw 11 pitches, seven of them strikes.

"That's how you like it," Wells said. "You don't want to be out there too long. I was able to get loose, but I was a little skeptical because of the off time in getting out there. But once you're in there, you forget about the aches and pains. I just wanted to go out there without any scratches."

Wells was acquired from the Yankees with 2B Homer Bush and LHP Graeme Lloyd for five-time Cy Young Award-winner Roger Clemens on Feb. 18. Last season, Wells was 18-4 in 30 starts with a 3.49 ERA. He had eight complete games. Wells is scheduled to start Wednesday against the Phillies at Jack Russell Stadium in Clearwater.

CAMP OPENS: The Jays open minor-league camp today at Englebert Complex. All players assigned are expected to report.

Cone unloads full arsenal

TAMPA -- David Cone wasn't planning to show the Devil Rays everything he had, but it just felt so good

Sixty-nine pitches later, Cone finished his second spring start after allowing one run on four hits in the Yankees' 3-2 loss. He struck out four and walked two in four innings.

"It was a good day," Cone said. "I mixed in all my pitches, the curveball, splitter and slider, probably more so than I expected. My breaking pitches felt good and they were coming off my fingertips fairly well, so I threw in a couple more than I planned."

STRAW ON BOARD: Darryl Strawberry, playing in a split-squad game against the Tigers at Lakeland, hit a two-run double in the first for his first RBI of the spring. He finished 1-for-4.

"It felt good. Any time you can contribute to your team you're satisfied," Strawberry said. "I took a few good swings and ran the bases in a game situation. It was a positive day."

CLEMENS-BLUE JAYS: Yankees fans get the chance they've been waiting for Tuesday night at Legends Field when Clemens starts against the Blue Jays. BUMPS AND BRUISES: 2B Luis Sojo was scratched just before game time with a sore left heel. ... RF Paul O'Neill, a late scratch Friday, did not play as he battles the flu. ... CF Bernie Williams missed his third straight game with a hip flexor. He has taken batting practice the past two days and is day-to-day. ... LHP Andy Pettitte continues to rest his elbow and is not scheduled to return to the rotation. He plans to play catch Monday.

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