Jays' Wells Angry Over SI Piece

Wednesday, July 5th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CLEVELAND (AP) — Well, there's another big-league pitcher mad at Sports Illustrated, and this time it's not because of anything he said.

David Wells, leading the majors with 14 wins, is upset with this week's cover story about him in SI. The Toronto pitcher was named to the AL All-Star team Wednesday and could start the game in Atlanta next week.

``It's an honor to be on the cover, but the story is a total joke,'' Wells said at Jacobs Field where the Blue Jays played the Indians. ``It's terrible.''

The cover features an action photo of Wells, his shirt unbuttoned and his belly hanging over his belt with the headline, ``The David Wells Diet: Chips, Beer and American League Batters.''

Inside, there is a feature story titled ``Heavy Duty'' written by Jeff Pearlman, who also wrote the article in which John Rocker made derogatory remarks about gays and minorities.

``All it talks about is me being fat and what I did when I was in New York basically,'' said Wells, traded by the Yankees just before last season. ``Read it. It's stupid. The guy screwed John Rocker and all of a sudden I'm victim No. 2.''

The piece begins, ``David Wells is fat'' and in the first paragraph Wells' ``fingers and toes, ears and nose, forehead and chin(s) are fat.''

SI spokesman Joe Assad disputed Wells' characterization of the story and pointed out that it also describes the pitcher as one of the best in the game and a good influence in the clubhouse.

``It's a bit of a stretch to compare this to the Rocker situation,'' Assad said. ``We're sorry that he takes offense to certain points.''

Wells, who is quoted throughout the story, said he didn't even speak to Pearlman for the article. Assad, however, noted that quotes are often gathered in group situations in locker rooms.

Wells said he was approached twice by Pearlman, but declined the interview because SI had reneged on a promise to put him on the cover after he agreed to do a photo shoot for the magazine while he was pitching with the Yankees.

Toronto general manager Gord Ash is described as ``mountain of a man himself'' in the SI article. Ash said he read the story but declined to comment.