Gold Glover Wells to be the constant in ever-shifting lineup

By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com

有時,被忽視也是一件好事
在季後動作頻繁的多倫多陣中, Vernon Wells的名字幾乎沒有被提起過
那來自於他沉穩的領袖特質,穩健的守備和優異的打擊使得他的位置在隊中非常穩固

Wells會肩負起中外野的守備,但是他左右兩邊的隊友會因為對手而每天都會有變動,即便如此,總括來說,靠著Wells鎮守中外野大關,藍鳥的外野防線仍然相當優異

去年在出賽155場無失誤之後,Wells連續第二年拿下AL外野手金手套,此外也有生涯新高的12次助殺,這個聯盟第三的成績相當耀眼,但是在經歷藍鳥隊一個繁忙的冬季之後,這並不是Wells心中最重要的目標

"所有的獎項都只是次要的,重點是球隊的成功""季後賽的勝利和獎項比這些例行賽的獎項更重要"Wells說道"獲得金手套當然很酷,也是我努力的目標,但是我想所有人的目標都是我們在一起並達到一些成就"

經由季後的繁忙動作,藍鳥隊正嘗試在左右外野使用一項彈性的策略增加攻擊力來達到他們進軍季後賽的目標。

多倫多希望能依照打擊率在每一場比賽中排出最好的打線來贏球,
那意味著在面對左投時,右打Reed Johnson和Alex Rios將會是先發左右外野手
而面對右投時,Eric Hinske會守左外野而Frank Catalanotto站右外野.

"他們在討論的那四個人在外野中,每一個人都有表現的機會"Wells說道
"就球隊所關心的來說,當然我確定選手換位置是一件不容易的事,但我相信目前的動作有助於提升我們的打擊火力"

而至於這種彈性打線對守備好不好又是另一件事了. Hinske自從2A之後就沒守過外野了,Catalanotto的臂力也不被認為能肩負起右外野的重任,2名選手都曾被轉型成內野手,現在要他們同時守外野也無形中增加了Wells的守備壓力

或著也許Wells能幫助這2個人適應他們的新角色。

"我很確定Vernon因為是金手套級的,所以他背負了很多壓力"Hinske在上週說道
"我會跟Catalanotto和Vernon好好聊一聊,我要開始守外野了,而我必須放開心胸去傾聽別人給我的建議,我有信心我能把它做得很好,而我對此也很興奮"

Johnson能夠肩負外野3個位置,它的守備範圍夠大而且被力夠強
Rios是一個天生的右外野手:強肩,隊球的判斷精準

Wells並不僅僅是外野防區的領導人,同時也是整個球隊的靈魂

去年在打線中並未得到太多掩護的的情況下,全年成績並不出色,但是他仍交出28支全壘打以及97分打點的成績,而這成績是2003年33支全壘打以及117分點以來的最佳表現,Wells今年將扛下第三棒,在Glaus擔任清壘任務的情況下,我們有理由認為他的成績將會再次爆發

即使如此,Wells並未指出缺少掩護是他過去2年成績下滑的主因

"如果你正在做你自己的工作,我不認為誰在你後面會有影響"他說"在過去幾年裡,有很多次我都未能完成我的任務,而那讓我很挫折. 我很高興看到球隊在季後所做的努力,而我希望那對我們的進攻有幫助"

Catalanotto上一季在打擊率(0.301)領先全隊,上壘率也有0.367
Hinske全年15支全壘打有11支是面對右投時打出的,而他今年也將會以面對右投為主,Johnson也有單季10發的潛力,但是他在打線中主要是擔任開路先鋒的角色

Rios的潛能卻是個潛在的問題,多倫多仍然相信隨著經驗的累積Rios會成為大砲,他去年擊出10支全壘打而2004年只有1支,不過可能要到比較後期才能看出他的進步
如果他能夠成為固定先發成員而壓迫到Catalanotto的上場機會,那在左外野將會造成3搶1的局面

在春訓結束前,左右外野都不會有明顯的答案

不論左右外野是誰先發,Wells都很有信心外野不會淪陷

"不論旁邊站的是Catalanotto或Reed,我都樂於在外野守備"Wells說"Alex也一樣,我相信Eric也會習慣這裡,一但他習慣了,不論是誰我都很有信心"

原文

Sometimes being ignored is a good thing.

In the midst of all the questions surrounding Toronto's offseason moves, Vernon Wells' name has been left out of the discussion. That's because his quiet leadership, solid glovework and productive bat have allowed him to become one of the only certainties for the Blue Jays heading into this season.

Wells will be in center field. Which players will stand to the left and right of him will probably vary from game to game. As a whole, though, Toronto's outfield is a versatile group that will be anchored by Wells' presence up the middle.

Last year, Wells picked up his second consecutive American League Gold Glove after committing no errors in 155 games. He also had a career-high 12 assists. A third such accolade could be on the horizon for Wells, but it's not the primary goal he has in mind after Toronto's busy winter.

"Those awards are secondary to, hopefully, what we can accomplish as a team. I'd rather win a postseason award before an end-of-the-regular-season award," Wells said. "Gold Gloves are cool and fun to achieve, but I think everyone's goal is to get something we can show off on our finger."

One strategy Toronto plans to use toward making a playoff run is to give the offense a boost by capitalizing on flexibility at the corner outfield spots.

The Blue Jays want to play the percentages to give the lineup the best chance to succeed each game. That means right-handed hitters Reed Johnson and Alex Rios will likely be in left and right field, respectively, against left-handed pitchers. Against right-handers, Toronto will likely start Eric Hinske in left field and Frank Catalanotto in right.

"The four guys that they're talking about putting out there, they each have a chance to produce," Wells said. "As far as our team is concerned, I'm sure it's going to be hard for guys to be moving in and out, but the guys that are going to be coming in and out should be pretty good for our offense."

Whether or not the plan will be good for the defense is another matter. Hinske hasn't played a game in the outfield since Double-A, and Catalanotto doesn't have the type of arm strength typically desired for a right fielder. Both players are converted infielders and having them play the corners at the same time could put more pressure on Wells.

Or maybe Wells can help Hinske and Catalanotto's transition into their new roles.

"I'm sure Vernon is going to take a lot of pressure off because he's a Gold Glover," Hinske said last week. "I'm going to talk to Catalanotto and Vernon. I'm just going to go in there with an open mind and listen to what everyone is telling me. I'm confident that I can do it, and I'm excited."

Johnson, who can play all three outfield spots, has a good arm and great range. Rios is a natural right fielder with great arm strength and good instincts going after the ball.

Wells isn't just the defensive leader of the group, either. He also will be an integral part of the heart of the order.

He struggled out of the gate last season, but finished with 28 home runs and 97 RBIs without much protection behind him in the lineup. Those totals were his best showing since hitting 33 homers with 117 RBIs in 2003. Wells is slated to be the No. 3 hitter this year and could see his offensive numbers spike again with slugger Troy Glaus now hitting cleanup.

Wells doesn't point to the batters around him to account for the slight drop in his production over the last two seasons, though.

"I don't think it matters who is behind you if you're doing your own job," he said. "There have been plenty of times when I haven't [done my job] in the last couple of years, and it's been frustrating. It's fun to see what additions we made, and, hopefully, it'll help our offense as a whole."

The other outfielders provide different types of offense.

Catalanotto led the team in batting average (.301) last season and had a .367 on-base percentage. Hinske hit 11 of his 15 home runs against righties, whom he will be facing for the most part this year. Johnson has the potential to hit double-digits in homers, but is more of a gap hitter and could see some time at the leadoff spot.

Rios' potential could possibly create a problem. Toronto still believes the young Puerto Rican can develop into a good power hitter after he gains more experience. He hit 10 home runs last year after managing just one in 2004. His progress could be hindered, though, if he is forced into a platoon role with Catalanotto. If Rios does become an everyday player, that would create a three-man jam in left field.

There won't be any concrete answers for the corner positions until the current plan is evaluated more closely during Spring Training.

Wells is confident the outfield can hold up no matter which players are in left and right field.

"I love playing the outfield when [Catalanotto] is out there or when Reed is out there," Wells said. "It's the same thing with Alex. I think Eric is going to have to get used to playing out there again, but once he gets used to it, I'm fully confident in whoever is beside me."
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