07/19/2012 4:52 PM ET
Kip Wells: Feels great to be back
Padres righty is in the big leagues for first time since 2009
The past few years have been as much a mental grind for me as a physical grind. Mentally, the situation can be demoralizing. But from a physical standpoint, nothing has changed from the time I last pitched in the big leagues in 2009.
The journey I have experienced does not come with a script. It has been trying to stay in shape to play, trying to get work, trying to go to places to stay competitive. To be back here is a good end to that chapter of my career. Where we go from here, we will see.
I think every path leads to success, and success can be a term that is used loosely. I am proud of the things I have accomplished in my career. Like most other endeavors, when it ends on a note that you do not expect, or if it prematurely ends, it leaves a sour taste in your mouth.
If nothing else, I wanted to decide for myself when I was done, and from the standpoint of, "Don't call us, we'll call you," that very well could have been the end for me and my pitching career.
But I knew that throwing and staying in shape and preparing for baseball these past few years were the right things for me. I judged myself against other players, against young guys and guys in a similar situation as myself, and when I looked at it apples-to-apples, I judged that I was still good enough. I knew that I was still able to pitch at a certain level and that did not warrant walking away. If I were a watered-down version of what I was, then I would have been directed otherwise.
I felt and knew, from a pitching standpoint, what I was capable of and healthy enough to produce. I knew I could get guys out at this level, and that was reason enough for me to continue to challenge myself.
During the time I was away from the big leagues, what made it more frustrating was that people around me associated me with baseball and playing baseball. You have to report back and tell them what has changed. You basically, for lack of a better word, spin it into thinking there is still an opportunity, there is still a chance. You are having to self-evaluate by asking yourself questions like, "Are you still productive?" "Is this heading anywhere?" "Or are you just spinning your tires?"
That was the ongoing battle. You have the definition of insanity -- which is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I would be home or somewhere else trying to convince someone to give me an opportunity.
At the same time, there were still a lot of good things that happened in my life the past few years. Not everything is baseball related. From a family standpoint, from a maturity standpoint, you realize that you are in a different phase of your life than you were when you were 24, 25 years old. I stayed busy, for the most part, taking care of kids and being a father.
Coming back the response has been very surprising. There has been a lot of affirmation from people who realize the hard work, who realize that I stuck to something. People see that I was driven, and it sort of confirms that if you keep your head down and keep working, good things will happen.
I'm continuing to challenge myself. I want to keep things simple, but at this point the perspective it different. I have had a fairly long career in one capacity, and I have had the opportunity to come back. I have experienced a little bit of everything during my career. You try and take some of those things that you have experienced and use them to your advantage.
You also appreciate the opportunity, and it is about allowing yourself to succeed when it comes to competing. You know, ultimately, what will be judged will be the quality of your work. That goes without saying. But, right now, it is about going out there and having quality innings and quality starts. It is about taking it one thing at a time.
Veteran right-hander Kip Wells has made three starts for the Padres this season, his first taste of the Majors since 2009. The 35-year-old has nearly 300 games at the big league level and has won close to 70 contests.