David Wells is back where he belongs

Am I excited about the Padres signing David Wells, who can be as dominating as any pitcher in baseball he’s throwing well? No. Am I happy about it? Yes. Certainly.

Wells is 41 with a history of back problems. He’s never been known for following a strict physical fitness regime. He’s no Rickie Henderson, my friend. But when Wells is healthy, he’s quite good. And I also believe he’s charged up and motivated to pitch well for the Padres in 2004.

But here’s the real reason I’m glad the Padres signed Wells: He’s always dreamed of being a Padre. It’s a dream I can identify with.

I interviewed Wells his rookie season with Toronto. We had an immediate affinity — two San Diego boys who loved Nate Colbert growing up. Wells used to play shadow baseball in his back yard, as I did. He would be either a player on the Yankees, or a player on the Padres, usually Colbert, who’s bat-on-the-shoulder crouch was easy to imitate (first homer I ever hit in a game that counted as a child was the first time in a real game I used the crouch — with the results never to be repeated).

So I understand David’s dream. And knowing David, there is a bitter sweet element to fulfillment of the dream — his mother didn’t live to see him in a Padres uniform. But I know there’s a bunch of guys in Ocean Beach this morning who are celebrating — their buddy is coming home.

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