Gaston not planning to rest Wells often

Gaston not planning to rest Wells often

Cito Gaston doesn't intend to limit the amount of time center fielder Vernon Wells spends in the lineup early on this season. The only change the Blue Jays' manager might make is handing Wells a start here and there as the team's designated hitter.

Given Wells' health history, and the unfortunate flareups he dealt with this spring, it'd be understandable if Gaston chose to give the center fielder more time off in order to minimize the risk of re-injury. That's not the way Gaston views the situation at all.

"Vernon is going to have to go out and just play hard," Gaston said. "If he comes up hurt, there's nothing we can do about that. I think that's the only way he knows how to go about it. When you go out and try to guard yourself from getting hurt, most of the time you do get hurt."

During Spring Training, Wells was limited to 11 Grapefruit League games due to a strained left hamstring and a sore left wrist. Both problems were related to injuries that Wells suffered last season with the Jays. That being the case, there is a realistic chance that Wells could face a season-long battle against similar issues.

On Monday, Wells was in the lineup against the Tigers as the cleanup hitter and center fielder and that will likely remain the case going forward. Occasionally, Gaston may have Wells serve as the designated hitter -- a role primarily filled by outfielder Adam Lind -- but the manager also plans on doing the same with left fielder Travis Snider and right fielder Alex Rios.

"I intend not to let Lind DH all year," Gaston said. "He's going to play some outfield and give those guys some rest. Maybe once a week, somebody will rotate here and there. Vernon will certainly be one of those guys."

Emphasizing his point that Wells' injury issues aren't a high-level concern right now, Gaston added that the center fielder has the go-ahead to steal bases this season. While Wells was out with the hamstring issue this spring, Gaston had indicated that he would probably restrict the outfielder on the basepaths. That apparently has changed.

"He's going to have the green light now if he wants to go," Gaston said. "It's going to be up to him."

Pitching matchup
TOR: LHP David Purcey (3-6, 5.54 ERA in 2008)
Purcey is third on Toronto's depth chart, but has been moved up into the second slot in the rotation to break up the right-handed and left-handed starters. Purcey had an inconsistent stint as a rookie starter for the Jays last season, finishing with 58 strikeouts and 29 walks over 65 innings in 12 starts. Purcey -- a first-round pick by Toronto in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft -- pitches best when he has his curveball working well and he's consistently finding the strike zone. The left-hander can be exposed when his breaking ball isn't working properly.

DET: RHP Edwin Jackson (14-11, 4.42 ERA in 2008)
Jackson's Tigers debut will come against one of his familiar division foes from his days in Tampa Bay, not to mention an opponent he faced little more than a week ago. There are likely no secrets between Jackson and the Jays, but both he and the Tigers believe that if he executes his stuff, it likely won't matter. He went 2-1 over his four starts against Toronto last year, allowing nine earned runs over 24 1/3 innings. At Rogers Centre, however, he has never lost in five career starts, striking out 28 over 33 1/3 innings.

Bird feed
Lind collected six RBIs against the Tigers on Monday, setting a new franchise record for RBIs on Opening Day. Lind contributed a two-run single in the first inning, a three-run home run in the fourth and an RBI single in the eighth. ... With his win on Opening Day, ace Roy Halladay tied Toronto's club record with three career Opening Day victories. ... The Blue Jays drew 48,027 fans on Monday, breaking a streak of four straight home openers with at least 50,000 in attendance. The last time Toronto had an attendance below 50,000 for a home opener was in 2004, when the club drew 47,817 fans. ... Toronto opens this season with two left-handers in its rotation (Purcey and Ricky Romero) for the first time since the 2005 season (Ted Lilly and Gustavo Chacin). This is the first time in team history that the Jays started a season with two rookies (Scott Richmond and Romero) in the rotation.

Tickets
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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• Extra Innings Preview

On radio
• 820 CHAM

Up next
• Wednesday: Blue Jays (Jesse Litsch, 13-9, 3.58 in 2008) vs. Tigers (Zach Miner, 8-5, 4.27 in 2008), 7:07 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Blue Jays (Ricky Romero, MLB debut) vs. Tigers (Rick Porcello, MLB debut), 12:37 p.m. ET
• Friday: Blue Jays (Scott Richmond, 1-3, 4.00 in 2008) at Indians (Scott Lewis, 4-0, 2.63 in 2008), 4:05 p.m. ET

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.