BELLEVILLE — Less than a year after retiring, former Chicago Cubs pitcher Randy Wells has designs on a comeback.
Wells, a 2000 graduate of Belleville East, said his right elbow has responded well to throwing sessions this winter. He underwent arthroscopic surgery on the elbow in July 2012 and was eventually cut free by the Cubs and later the Texas Rangers.
Wells, 31, recently worked out for Arizona Diamondbacks area scout Brian Boehringer at St. Louis Baseball and Fastpitch Academy. Wells hopes to prove --to himself and to prospective employers --that he's healthy, with the immediate goal being to receive an invitation to spring training and a minor-league deal.
"It's far-fetched because when you retire, you get off people's radar," Wells said. "We'll see what happens.
"I can't expect a whole lot. It's not like people are knocking down my door or anything like that. I quit because of injury. Not a lot of people are going to take a flier on a 31-year-old guy just to bring him into minor-league camp to see if he's healthy."
Wells, however, pointed out that former big-league pitchers Mark Mulder (Los Angeles Angels) and Brad Penny (Kansas City Royals), both of whom pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals, have agreed to minor-league deals this winter. Mulder is 36, Penny is 35.
Another player, outfielder Grady Sizemore, 31, signed with the Boston Red Sox despite not playing since Sept. 22, 2011.
But with February rapidly approaching, Wells said it's getting late in the game. Something needs to happen soon.
"I was kind of hoping by now (I would know something)," Wells said. "Usually, by the Super Bowl, you have something lined up. You've only got 15 days until you report after that."
Wells, who is represented by New York-based ACES, last pitched in the major leagues in 2012 when he was 1-2 with a 5.34 ERA in 12 games and four starts with the Cubs. Wells' best season was in 2009 when he 12-10 with a 3.05 ERA in 27 games, all of them starts.
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Wells is 28-32 with a 4.08 ERA in 98 career games, all but 12 of them starts.
Wells said the harsh winter hasn't worked in his favor.
"It's been so cold here that it's tough to get outside," he said. "If I was with a team, I could get out of here and go to their complex. But it's been kind of a rough go."
Wells' surgery removed bone spurs and corrected some structural damage in his elbow.
"I don't have the symptoms I had back when I couldn't pitch anymore," said Wells, who is spending the winter as a volunteer assistant coach at Lindenwood-Belleville, which provides him an opportunity to throw every day.
If the comeback doesn't happen, Wells has expressed an interest in coaching. He's been volunteering for a short time at Lindenwood.
"I started helping out over there to try to gain some experience," he said. "I know I have knowledge and stuff to share. It's just sometimes people aren't good at sharing it. I've done everything --infield, catching, pitching.
"I'm preparing for life after (baseball), but we'll see what happens."