Wedge determined to improve Tribe
Manager focusing on making team better, not job security
CLEVELAND -- Victor Martinez voiced his support for Eric Wedge after Sunday's loss to the Tigers dropped the Indians to 11-21, telling reporters the Tribe's brutal start to the season is not the manager's fault.Wedge, sticking with his role as the leader of this ballclub, disagreed. "I'm the manager," he said. "It is my fault. I'm not out there playing, but I'm the manager of this team, and I'm responsible for this club. I try to stay out of the way when things are going well and take full responsibility when they're not going well. The bottom line is, we're a better club than what we're showing and how we're playing. That has to be a direct reflection on me." Last season, the Indians saw early injuries and ineffectiveness compromise their playoff hopes, and they rallied to an 81-81 record with a strong second half, once CC Sabathia, Casey Blake and Paul Byrd were dealt away and the pressure was off. The higher-ups thought it might have been Wedge's best managerial season. Now Wedge, in his seventh season at the helm, finds himself answering questions about his job security in mid-May, and the tactics that worked in the second half of last season have not applied. "Every team is different from year to year," he said. "This year's team is different than last year's team and prior years. You've got to push every button, turn over every stone, kick every tire. I can't think of any more cliches right now, but I think you get the point." Wedge has come under increased scrutiny from fans and reporters alike in recent days, as the Indians started play on Monday seven games back in the American League Central, and they are already in danger of seeing a season of high expectations go by the wayside just six weeks in. And Wedge said he understands the scrutiny. Embraces it, even. "I've got thick skin and broad shoulders," he said. "It comes with the territory of being a Major League manager. I believe in these guys, but we've got to do better. Whether it be not missing pitches at home plate, getting people out with two or three pitches or staying away from the walks, executing, hitting the cutoff man, getting bunts down, everything. Things are going to happen every now and again, because they're human and not widgets, but it can't happen as consistently as it's been." Wedge has tried the motivational speeches. He's publicly called out certain players for certain mistakes. He's made some tweaks to how he doles out the playing time, but he hinted that more tweaks might be in order. Among other things, he's considering dropping the struggling Grady Sizemore down from the leadoff spot, and he's considering giving more time to recently promoted outfielder Matt LaPorta, who has been a ghost in recent days. As he considers these moves and analyzes his club, Wedge is not spending much time thinking about his potentially dwindling job security. "I'm smart enough to recognize where we are as a ballclub," he said. "My entire energy goes into finding a way to help these guys get on track. That takes all the energy I have right now. So I don't spend time thinking about that. But I know it comes with the territory." Wedge doesn't think this season is lost. "You look at it from the short-term, and if these guys figure it out and have a good week, we're right back in the middle of our division," he said. "But it has to start now. It has to start today. The next inning. The next pitch. If that's pressure, then so be it. It's the big leagues. If you can't handle that, then everything else is moot anyway."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.