Wells confirmed via Twitter and in a message to MLB.com that he's heading back to the United States after tweaking his knee in the Dominican Winter League. He's expected to be examined this week by Tigers head athletic trainer Kevin Rand, but early indications suggest the injury isn't major.
"I'll have a better idea when I get back to the U.S.," Wells said in a message a few days ago. "My trip down here has been shortened due to a little issue with my knee."
Wells did not specify which knee.
The problems arose just as Wells was heating up at the plate following a frigid start in the Dominican. He started out 0-for-13 for Escogido, then went 8-for-20 with three doubles and a triple over five games, the most recent of them coming Nov. 3. It's the kind of stretch people have almost come to expect this time of year from Wells, who used strong stretches in the Arizona Fall League the previous two seasons for momentum going into Spring Training.
He hasn't been able to use that offseason magic to win a job out of camp, but he made it to Detroit this past season and batted .323 (30-for-93) with six doubles, four home runs and 17 RBIs in 36 games. Much of that action came late in the season after Magglio Ordonez suffered a season-ending ankle fracture.
Wells' future depends on what the Tigers do with their outfield this offseason. If things break right for him, Wells could open the season in an outfield platoon with Brennan Boesch.