By and large, health has been the least of Wells' problems to date. A 38th-round draft pick in 2002, he has logged over 100 innings each season since making the switch from catcher to pitcher in late 2003, including a career-high 131 1/3 innings a season ago.
But toward the end of last season, the right-hander missed a handful of starts due to arm soreness. Wells pitched through the pain as much as it would allow because he said he didn't want to risk one of the Cubs' pitching prospects at Double-A or Class High-A coming up to take his spot.
Wells attributes the soreness he experienced to the normal wear and tear of a full season. He'd never started an entire season prior to 2006, having previously spent the majority of his pitching career in the bullpen.
"Toward the end of [last] year, when I was struggling and hurting a little bit, I felt I was using all arms, like I just didn't have any legs underneath me," Wells said. "I'm doing a lot of lower body stuff to strengthen my legs and to take some stress off my arm."
To get a head start on his strength and conditioning exercises heading into Spring Training, Wells hired a personal trainer to help keep him in shape.
"He's pretty much just a motivator," said Wells. "When you're feeling tired, he makes you do it and he makes you do it right so you don't get hurt. I'm in good shape, but I hit that little stint toward the end of last year and I wanted to do as much this offseason to make sure it doesn't happen again."
As Wells has strongly indicated this offseason, he'd like to return to the bullpen despite the overly solid numbers he posted from the starting rotation a season ago. He was named a Florida State League All-Star at Daytona in 2005, going 5-1 with a 2.94 ERA in 31 relief appearances.
"We'll see," Wells said of his 2007 outlook. "With the Cubs, you never know. They have their own ideas."
Wells could soon find out what those ideas are, as he was one of 11 non-roster players invited to Big League Spring Training earlier this month. He features a fastball, changeup and slider in his repertoire and relies on the command of all three of his pitches.
"His delivery is sound and he's a strike-thrower," Cubs Minor League Pitching Coordinator Alan Dunn said of Wells. "There's no substitute for throwing strikes. He's another guy that's not going to blow you away, or come out and overpower you, so he has to rely on location. He can get hurt with his location if he's not really commanding the ball down in the zone, but he's a bulldog on the mound. He's a competitor, which you love to see. He studies it and asks a lot of questions. I look for some good things from him."