After their historic 2004 postseason, the Red Sox were facing the daunting task of defending their newly acquired World Championship without the pitching talents of either Pedro Martinez or Derek Lowe, who had both departed via free agency that winter. Compounding Boston’s challenge was the fact that after the Red Sox had embarrassed them by coming back from a 3-0 deficit to win the ’04 ALCS, the arch-rival Yankees had went out and got Randy Johnson from the Diamondbacks, to strengthen their own rotation.
The Red Sox front office set their sights on former Yankee David Wells, who had spent the ’04 season going 12-8 for the Padres in his hometown of San Diego. Theo Epstein signed the big southpaw to a two year deal and the eccentric Wells, who had been fined when he wore Ruth’s hat during a Yankee game earlier in his career asked for and received the Bambino’s uniform number “3” when he got to Boston. It proved not to be Boomer’s lucky number.
Not only did he lose to Johnson and the Yankees on Opening Day, he went on to lose four of his first six Red Sox decisions and with his ERA approaching seven, Wells was hearing boos from the Fenway faithful. Sports pundits publicly wondered if his best days were behind him. Not yet. He switched his uniform number to “16” and went 13-3 for the remainder of the season, helping Boston capture the wildcard race and return to the postseason.
He underwent knee surgery during the offseason and as he recovered, got homesick and asked the Boston front office to trade him back to a west coast team. He opened ’06 on the DL and by late August with the Red Sox all but eliminated from fall-ball contention, he got his wish and was traded back to the Padres. He hung on for one more season and then retired with an impressive 239-157 record for his 21-season career.