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Call David Wells a mercenary if you like. You’ll get the chance to use that name, and others, up close and personal, when the former Padre appears at Petco next weekend, as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Meanwhile, with Chris Young hurting again, the Padres are short of starting pitching. Second guessing is pointless at the moment, but talk to me in ten days. For now, let’s defend Kevin Towers.

Wells had been pounded for a month, from July 7 to Aug. 6, covering six starts. Prior to that, he’d had a nice run of eleven straight starts in which he had given up as many as four runs just one time. But baseball is a game of what-have-you-done-for-me-lately. The six starts in which Wells struggled were painful to watch, and the Padres took it as an indication that he’d reached the end of the line. We’ll know soon enough if they were right.

It’s going to be pivotal in the standings either way. If Wells is victorious over his former mates in his start here, most likely next Saturday, they lose a game in the Wild Card and division to the Dodgers. If the locals beat the crap out of the guy instead, it’s a two-game swing the other way. I’m making no predictions, but my guess is that the Pads brain-trust did not envision even having to think about it.

Similarly, I suppose the Dodgers weren’t concerned that Brady Clark would end up in San Diego, and hurt them in September. For all we know, a David Wells-Brady Clark match-up will be a season-turning event.

By the way, forget about the mercenary term. Wells is no David Cone. He simply found himself unemployed, and wanted to continue. The Dodgers gave him a shot, and he’s taking it. Let’s chat in 10 days when Wells’ performance makes a difference for the entire NL West, one way or another.

— HOWARD COLE

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