Indians' Wedge: "I'm a big boy"

Jun 26, 2009 - 11:19 PM By TOM WITHERS AP Sports Writer

CLEVELAND(AP) -- Indians manager Eric Wedge took his customary seat on the padded bench in Cleveland's dugout on Friday to meet with reporters.

It felt a lot warmer than the last time he sat there.

Back from a 1-5 road trip that included three last at-bat losses, the Indians opened a three-game interleague series on Friday against the Cincinnati Reds with Wedge's future a matter of intense speculation.

Having dropped eight of nine games, the Indians have the worst record in the AL and are 12 games out in the Central Division. If bloggers, Internet message board visitors, sports talk radio hosts and some columnists had their way, Wedge would be out, too.

Wedge, who is signed through 2010, understands the scrutiny. It's part of the job, well, as long as he has one.

"The speculation about me is real. I understand it. I get it. It's where we are," he said. "I'm a big boy. We've got men on this team. You take the good with the bad. I've told you guys since Day One when you take on this job, you take on the good, the bad and the ugly and everything that goes along with it."

Wedge is in his seventh season with Cleveland, but this one has been unlike any other. Because of injuries and a deplorable cast of relievers, the Indians have already used 41 players and it's not even July. The bullpen has blown 13 saves and Cleveland has lost 12 games in the opponents' final at-bat.

"It rips your guts out to have those eighth- and ninth-inning losses, especially when you have the lead at the time," Wedge said. "But our guys have always been resilient and we've always talked about being able to separate from one day to the next. Our guys do that.

"You don't fight like they fight day in and day out if you aren't doing that."

Indians general manager Mark Shapiro has maintained that Wedge should not lose his job because of what has transpired to this point. Unless the Indians turn things around, Shapiro is going to have a tougher time convincing owners Paul and Larry Dolan of that.

Shapiro routinely meets with the Dolans on a wide-range of issues.

"Of course, one of the topics of conversation has also been the performance of the manager and his staff, the front office and players," Shapiro said. "Evaluations of everything. That's been a topic of conversation."

Shapiro was asked if Wedge was on the "hot seat."

"I don't know what that means," he said. "In this business, every single one of us has a sense of urgency to our jobs and a real sense of accountability. We all go through junctures when we're evaluated. To me, now is not one of those junctures. I feel now as I did when I spoke 10 days ago that accountability or responsibility for what has been a bad year is broad-based and shared.

"That's why the arrow shouldn't point at Eric. It should point toward a broad spectrum - our players, our staff, Eric, myself, the front office. There's shared responsibility and as I've said before I'm accountable for all those groups."

Shapiro was asked if bringing any clarity to Wedge's future might be a good thing for the Indians, who are just two years removed from coming within one win of the World Series.

"If there's an announcement to make at some point, I'll make an announcement," Shapiro said. "I've never been in a habit of updating people on decisions or progress of decisions or junctures we're at. We conduct that business internally and obviously ownership is involved as well."

As tough as things have been for the Indians, Wedge has admired the way his players have continued to push.

"You have to come out here and expect good things to happen and keep a good atmosphere and a good attitude, which I think our guys have done a good job of," he said. "I've been really proud of them for that because of all the tough losses."

With each gut-wrenching loss, the Indians fall a little further back in a division they once owned. And as the All-Star break approaches, Shapiro knows his team - and Wedge - may be running out of time to turn things around.

"We're in a tough spot with the evidence mounting that it might be one of those years," Shapiro said.

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