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Left wrist surgery for Wells, Encarnacion

Left wrist surgery for Wells, Encarnacion

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TORONTO -- Never one to make excuses, Vernon Wells insisted throughout this past season that his struggles on offense were not related to injury. As it turns out, the Blue Jays center fielder was bothered some by a left wrist issue.

On Tuesday, the Blue Jays announced that Wells is scheduled to undergo surgery to repair cartilage damage in his wrist -- the same one he broke during a diving catch in Cleveland in May 2008. The operation will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Toronto also announced that third baseman Edwin Encarnacion went under the knife on Friday to repair damage to his left wrist as well. Baltimore-based hand specialist Dr. Tom Graham shaved a large bone spur off the hamate bone in Encarnacion's ailing wrist.

Wells and Encarnacion are both expected to be fully recovered prior to Spring Training. The bigger question, though, is how much Wells' injury contributed to his subpar showing this past season. Wells -- owed $107 million over the next five seasons -- labored through arguably the worst offensive showing of his career in 2009.

"I asked Vernon that," Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "I said, 'Vernon, do you think it affected you at the plate?' Again, Vernon's not one to make excuses. He really didn't want to go down that road."

Anthopoulos was a little more willing to do just that.

"Your wrists are a huge component in being able to swing the bat," Anthopoulos said. "Even though he didn't have pain, if it didn't feel 100 percent right, I can't imagine that it helped him. ... From my standpoint, I think it probably had some type of impact on his season. I just don't know to what extent."

Over 158 games and 684 at-bats, which both marked his highest such totals since 2001, Wells hit just .260 with 15 home runs, 66 RBIs, a .311 on-base percentage and a .400 slugging percentage. The center fielder produced fewer home runs and RBIs in a season than he had since 2001, when he appeared in only 30 games for Toronto.

Anthopoulos noted that Wells' wrist injury flared up on him during the spring and the center fielder received a cortisone shot to alleviate the pain. Throughout the regular season, Anthopoulos said Wells took anti-inflammatory medicine to help with any discomfort.

The Blue Jays did not feel surgery -- one that would have required between four and six weeks on the disabled list -- was necessary during the season. In 2008, Wells had an operation on the same wrist and sat out for roughly one month. Given that timeline of recovery, Anthopoulos is confident Wells will be ready for Spring Training.

Anthopoulos indicated that Wells informed Toronto's training staff of pain in his wrist earlier this offseason -- after the outfielder stopped taking anti-inflammatories. Wells was then examined and it was determined that the operation was needed. Anthopoulos reiterated that Wells did not complain of any pain that would have led the team to look into surgery during the year.

"People tend to think he doesn't show a lot of emotion and so on, but he's a very tough player," Anthopoulos said. "He plays hard and plays hurt and avoids the training room at all costs. Sometimes to a fault, he wont' tell us if he is in pain or if he is hurting.

"I asked him about it, I said, 'Vernon, I know you're not one to make excuses and we're certainly not 'trying to find one,' I was just curious from my standpoint, 'How it did feel?' He just said, 'You know what? It never felt completely right, but I was not in pain.''

Encarnacion had been bothered by a left wrist problem since Spring Training, when he was with the Reds. Toronto acquired the third baseman, along with pitchers Josh Roenicke and Zack Stewart, in the July 31 trade that sent third baseman Scott Rolen to Cincinnati. Encarnacion is projected to be Toronto's starting third baseman next season.

Encarnacion spent all of May on the disabled list due to the wrist injury, which contributed to an inconsistent season at the plate for the third baseman. After joining the Jays, Encarnacion hit .240 with eight homers and 23 RBIs in 42 games, finishing the year with seven homers and 18 RBIs over his final 23 contests.

"Knowing that he did have that late success with us," Anthopoulos said, "and there were still some things to clean out and so on, that certainly in my mind bodes well for him for 2010."

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

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