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Wells scratched from Tuesday start

Wells scratched from Tuesday start

ST.LOUIS -- Kip Wells showed up at Busch Stadium on Tuesday at 4 p.m. CT, ready to take the mound a few hours later as the starting pitcher for the Cardinals.

When he arrived at the park, he was told that manager Tony La Russa wanted to see him. With La Russa meeting with reporters in his office, Wells held off on talking to the skipper. Instead, he walked into the clubhouse and looked at the lineup card where he saw Brad Thompson's name in the ninth spot in the batting order, and not his.

Wells then ducked his head into La Russa's office, waving the manager over for an explanation. He got one, as La Russa left his office to have a short meeting with Wells.

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"Obviously it's frustrating when you planned on starting, and you're not. Other than that, I didn't come in here and throw chairs and break stuff just because they decided not to start me," Wells said. "It's their decision and something I don't have any control over. I generally throw well against the Phillies, so they wanted to have it where I was throwing against them."

Instead of starting against the Royals, who torched Wells for six runs in 1 1/3 innings last Thursday, Wells will start Sunday against the Phillies. Wells is 5-0 with a 1.26 ERA lifetime against Philadelphia.

La Russa said he didn't make up his mind on the starting pitcher until he arrived at the park on Tuesday and discussed it with pitching coach Dave Duncan. The two decided to move Wells back and bump up Thompson a day to Tuesday, and start Todd Wellemeyer on Wednesday on three days' rest. Wells will be available out of the bullpen for Tuesday and Wednesday's games.

La Russa said he told Thompson and Wellemeyer on Monday night that he was considering moving the rotation around, but didn't talk to Wells, because he didn't see him after the game. He didn't want to tell Wells over the phone he wasn't starting, preferring to do it face-to-face. As a result, Wells didn't know the news until three hours before he was ready to take the mound.

"It doesn't bother me any more than it would have if I was told I was going to start last night, and then after the game, he said, 'You're not starting anymore,'" Wells said. "I spent postgame last night and pregame today getting ready mentally and physically for the start, and then when you don't, it's a little bit of anxiety and anticipation that you go through that comes to an end when you show up at four o'clock and find out you're not starting."

Wells has struggled considerably in his first year with the Cardinals. In 14 starts, Wells has posted a 2-11 record with a 6.93 ERA. Wells, who is in his eighth year in the big-leagues, said he knows if he was pitching better, there wouldn't be any issues.

"You can always speak your mind and have an opinion on things. I mean, obviously, if I was pitching a lot better than I was, I wouldn't be missing a start. If I had success against these guys five days ago, I'd probably be starting," Wells said. "I think [La Russa] has my best intentions at heart. I think he wants me to be successful and he wants the team to be successful all inclusively. I think he wants to win but I don't think he's going to sabotage my career for it."

La Russa said he thought Wells handled the news well and understood his surprise when he showed up and saw he wasn't starting.

"He was surprised because he was ready to pitch. I know he understands," La Russa said. "When you tell him you're starting Sunday instead of today and you explain why, it really is pretty straightforward."

Daniel Berk is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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