Share This Page

Former Pirates pitcher Wells in deep hole

ST. LOUIS - Forgive Kip Wells if he doesn't get all tingly at the prospect of pitching tonight against the Pirates, his former team.

Wells has a lot on his mind.

The most glaring distraction is the right-hander's poor start to the season. Wells (1-8) is riding a seven-game losing streak, the longest of his career. His ERA is 6.75, sixth-highest among National League pitchers who have made at least five starts.

"It's exciting to face (the Pirates)," Wells said Tuesday. "Unfortunately, a lot of my focus is getting back on the winning side of things.

"In another situation, like maybe the first or second start of the year, it would have been a little more ... poetic or something. Now, it's just me trying to get out there and have quality innings."

Wells' life off the field also has taken a dramatic turn -- but in a good way. Last weekend, his wife gave birth to their first child, a daughter.

"Things are as back to normal as they're going to get," Wells said. "It's exciting. We'll see how sleep goes the next few months."

Wells' wife was admitted to a hospital in St. Louis late Friday night, while the Cardinals were in Detroit for an interleague series against the Tigers. Wells flew back here early Saturday morning, and a few hours later, Georgia Janelle was born.

"Janelle was my mother's name. She passed away from leukemia (in 1992)," Wells said. "That was my little sentimental twist on it."

And why Georgia?

"I don't know. We just decided that was the right name," Wells said. "We didn't want to name her something totally off the wall, like Wishing Wells."

That's not to say the baby's first day was entirely normal.

Wells eagerly showed off a handful of photographs taken in the hospital. In one shot, tiny Georgia Janelle is lying atop a plastic baggie of dirt.

Dirt?

"Oh, one of my relatives brought that from home," said Wells, a Houston native. "This way, we can say the first thing she touched was Texas dirt."

The Pirates sent Wells close to home last July by dealing him to the Texas Rangers. He started just two games before having season-ending foot surgery.

In the offseason, Wells, a free agent, signed a one-year, $4 million contract with St. Louis. He won his second start for the Cardinals, tossing seven shutout innings against Houston, but he has struggled since.

During his seven-game skid, Wells has allowed 37 earned runs in 39 innings. Over his past three starts, he has allowed 13 walks.

Wells has tinkered with his mechanics but hasn't given them a complete overhaul.

"Obviously, there are things at times I'm trying to (fine-tune)," he said. "But trying to reinvent the wheel every time you throw is a bit to the extreme side of things.

"At this point, I just need to figure out what style I want to go with and stick to it instead of how it's been -- I'll try to pitch a finesse game one start, I'll go right at them in another start, do this or that."

After playing for the Pirates for four-plus seasons, Wells is familiar with many of the batters he'll face tonight. But he doesn't believe that gives either side an edge.

"I think the edge is something that's all relative to before you start the game," Wells said. "It's, 'This guy is going to be good today' or 'We have a chance against this guy.'

"But once the first inning starts, if you get ahead and have a quick inning, all of a sudden that edge is gone. It's a matter of getting out there and setting the tone."


Pitcher from the past
Here's a look at Kip Wells' statistics during his career with the Pirates:
Season G W-L ERA
2002 33 12-14 3.59
2003 31 10-9 3.28
2004 24 5-7 4.55
2005 33 8-18 5.09
2006 7 1-5 6.69

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.