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MARKETPLACE:  Auto | Jobs | People Search | Personals | Travel | Yellow Pages  January 19, 2005
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Wells passes physical while Red Sox ponder starting rotation
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BOSTON (AP) -- The Red Sox finalized their deal with free agent pitcher David Wells on Tuesday after the left-hander passed a physical examination.

The 41-year-old Wells signed a two-year deal with Boston worth a guaranteed $8 million. With incentives, the contract could pay him as much as $18 million.

Wells was introduced by Red Sox officials at an afternoon news conference at Fenway Park, a ballpark that Wells, as a member of the rival New York Yankees, said he hated.

�I said that a long time ago because this is probably one of the worst places of my career,� Wells said Tuesday, adding that he never thought he�d ever play for the Red Sox. �I never thought I�d be in this situation.�

Wells was 12-8 with a 3.73 ERA last season for the San Diego Padres. He joins the Red Sox as the team�s longtime ace, Pedro Martinez, is poised to sign a four-year contract with the New York Mets.

The departure of Martinez leaves many questions about Boston�s starting rotation. The Red Sox have reportedly had little contact with free agent left-hander Derek Lowe, the team�s third starter last year behind Curt Schilling and Martinez.

Wells� signing fills one need for the World Series champions�a reliable left-handed starter in case Lowe doesn�t return.

With news that Schilling may not be ready for opening day after offseason surgery on his right ankle, Wells could be the Red Sox opening day starter.

�If that is the situation, give me the ball,� he said. �I�m ready. I never turned down a challenge, so why start now.�

Wells is 212-136 with a 4.03 ERA in 18 seasons with seven teams, including two separate stints with the Yankees. He�s 10-3 with a 3.18 ERA in 25 postseason appearances.

�David Wells has proven to be one of the top left-handers in the game,� general manager Theo Epstein said. �He throws strikes and should give us quality innings, improving the depth of our starting rotation.�

But Wells also brings to Boston a colorful past that has sometimes rubbed management and teammates the wrong way. He has been suspended for fighting, fined for comments in a book and injured when he fell off a bar stool at home and injured his wrist.


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