BOSTON (AP) – David Wells will return to the Boston Red Sox’s rotation on Monday and start against the Cleveland Indians, manager Terry Francona said Friday.

Wells hasn’t pitched since sustaining a bruise below his right knee when he was hit by a line drive on May 26 against Tampa Bay. But he did well enough in a five-inning simulated game on Monday that the team decided not to send him on a minor-league rehab start and use him in the majors instead.

The return of the 43-year-old left-hander on the night of baseball’s trading deadline would bolster a Red Sox rotation that has struggled to replace him and fellow injured starters Tim Wakefield, Matt Clement and Lenny DiNardo.

Wells had offseason surgery on his right knee and began the season on the 15-day disabled list. He was activated before the eighth game of the year and was the losing pitcher April 12 in an 8-4 loss to Toronto, then returned to the DL two days later with a sprained knee.

In two appearances this season, he is 0-1 with an 8.64 ERA.

AP-ES-07-28-06 1856EDT

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