David Wells is going to next Tuesday's All-Star Game in Atlanta and could be the starting pitcher for the American League.
But the Toronto Blue Jays' ace left-hander, who has won more games than any pitcher in the majors this year at 14-2, had something to be unhappy about yesterday.
It is a story in Sports Illustrated. He is on the cover with the headline "The David Wells Diet. Chips, Beer and American League Batters."
The lead of the story, written by Jeff Pearlman, reads: "David Wells is fat."
Inside, there is a picture from earlier this year of Wells smoking a cigar, in uniform, on his birthday.
Wells wasn't pleased. He had refused to be interviewed for the story. But there are quotes from him in the story apparently from other sources or from earlier in the season. The magazine was passed around the clubhouse yesterday and some of Wells's teammates were upset.
Pearlman also wrote the SI story about Atlanta Braves reliever John Rocker in which the pitcher made comments that offended many people. Rocker is still haunted by the story.
"It's just ridiculous," Wells said. "All it does is talk about me being fat, how fat I am and this and that. It's not about what I'm doing, it's about what I eat. Basically, it's chips and beer, according to this guy. [Bleep]him. It's really degrading. It's an honour to be on the cover, but the story he could have left out.
"You want to be on the cover for doing something good. Read it. It's stupid. It's about how fat I am and what I like to do when I'm in New York. The guy screwed up John Rocker, I guess. Or John screwed himself up. He was lucky enough to get the scoop and I'm victim No. 2 I guess."
But that wasn't why Wells wouldn't grant an interview to SI. A few years ago, he had posed for a picture as Santa Claus that was supposed to go on the cover, but it didn't. A similar thing happened again, so Wells said yesterday that he told SI representatives that he wasn't talking to them anymore.
Most of the unflattering references about Wells's weight are made in the opening of the story. The rest is basically re-hash. The Blue Jays traded Roger Clemens to the New York Yankees in February of 1998 for Wells, who originally was with Toronto, second baseman Homer Bush and left-handed reliever Graeme Lloyd.
"Everything about Wells is fat," Pearlman writes. "The three likenesses of family members tattooed on his upper body are fat."
Wells had time to talk some baseball. Wells and first baseman Carlos Delgado were added to the American League team.
Wells felt sorry that third baseman Tony Batista was left off the team.
"He's played tremendously offensively and defensively," Wells said. "To have him not there, I feel for him."
He feels that the pitching will be the key for the Blue Jays in the second half. The hitters have done the job, but the starters have been inconsistent. But Wells feels there is hope and mentioned how well Frank Castillo has pitched for the past month.
Kelvim Escobar and Roy Halladay have to become more consistent. And the third young pitcher in the rotation, Chris Carpenter, has struggled lately. But Wells said he's not concerned about Carpenter and feels that he will overcome his recent problems. Shortstop Alex Gonzalez was back in the lineup last night. He had missed nine games with a groin injury. "It's nice to have him back," Blue Jay manager Jim Fregosi said. "He's been great defensively all year." Catcher Darrin Fletcher had played one full game in a month because of a shoulder injury when he came off the disabled list Tuesday and started against the Cleveland Indians in a 9-4 loss. At first, he wasn't expected back until the weekend series against the Montreal Expos. Fletcher said yesterday that he felt no soreness after his first game. He said he came back quicker than expected because he felt ready after working out before the four games in Baltimore this past weekend. The only concern was his throwing. He had been hitting for about 10 days. Carpenter (6-7, 6.03 earned-run average) will start tonight against Cleveland's Dave Burba (8-3, 5.40). The Blue Jays will play three games at Olympic Stadium against the Expos to lead up to the all-star break. Escobar (6-9, 5.17), Wells (14-2, 3.41) and Castillo (5-5, 4.29) are Toronto's scheduled starters. The Expos' scheduled starters are Julio Santana (0-1, 4.35), Tony Armas (4-5, 3.81) and Dustin Hermanson (6-6, 5.13).