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Cashman: Differences were nothing personal

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Sure, Brian Cashman said, he and David Wells had their share of run-ins during the lefthander's two tours with the Yankees. But that was to be expected, given Cashman's role as general manager and Wells's history of taking issue with authority.

"Take the titles away," Cashman said, "and he reminds me of my college roommates. We always had a very good relationship."

Yes, Cashman said, Wells did call him before signing with the Red Sox this past offseason.

"I was on the Deegan [Expressway] when he called, and he said, `I'd love to come back,' " said Cashman. "I told him, `Boomer, I'll check with everybody, but we're planning to get younger with our staff.' I never did call back."

The Yankees, who had two slots open on their staff, signed free agents Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright, both 29. They later traded for Randy Johnson, who turns 42 just four months after Wells does in May. "Randy doesn't count," Cashman said.

Was Wells, who was frequently on the back pages of the tabloids and feuded openly with manager Joe Torre and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre during the 2003 season, worth the headaches?

"Yes," Cashman said without hesitation. "Because the bottom line is you could give him the ball every five days and he was worth it. Ultimately, he was a competitor. At times he took responsibility for what he did. He wrote the book [`Perfect I'm Not'], got fined for it, felt badly for it, and ended up retracting a lot of things.

"With the Red Sox, it will be like it was here. Every five days, if you give him the ball, you're going to get a great effort."

GORDON EDES

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