Wedge shows no worry over job status
Indians manager acknowledges the mounting criticism
PITTSBURGH -- Eric Wedge was sweating Thursday afternoon.
Not because of the increased scrutiny over his job security -- or, at least, not directly because of it. Wedge was sweating because he had done some extra cardio work. "I figure the higher your stress level, the more you should work out," Wedge said with a laugh. "And at this rate, I'll be in the best shape of my life." Wedge's Indians are in bad shape. They entered the final game of a three-game set with the Pirates with a 30-43 record, a season-high 11 games back in the American League Central standings and losers of seven out of eight games. This has served to create an outpouring of venomous rants about Wedge from bloggers, Internet message board commenters and sports talk radio voices. And it's led to recent reports that the Dolan ownership will soon meet with general manager Mark Shapiro to discuss the state of the team and, perhaps, Wedge's job. Such meetings, though, happen periodically every season. So while Wedge's performance over the past seven years is certainly under intense scrutiny by fans and the media, it's difficult to gauge how much scrutiny he's under from the Dolans. As for Shapiro, he's been on the record all year saying that Wedge does not deserve to lose his job because of the Indians' struggles. All this is taking place within earshot of Wedge. Though he notoriously never reads the newspaper during the season or listens to the radio shows, he's not oblivious to the talk. "I get the questions pretty consistently right now, whether it be TV, radio or print," Wedge said. "It just comes with the territory. Right now, my only focus is to win this game, win this series, get our bullpen figured out and try to get some of these guys back and healthy. I don't spend any energy on [thinking about job security] unless I have to. I know exactly where we're at." The Indians have gone 526-519 in Wedge's tenure, which began in 2003. In that time, they've won one Central Division title, in '07, and came within a win of the World Series, with Wedge named the AL Manager of the Year. They had hopes of repeating and building on that success the past two seasons, but slow starts, injuries and ineffectiveness -- particularly from the bullpen -- have crippled those efforts. Wedge, signed through 2010, said he has been given no absolutes about his job. "Mark and I continue to talk daily, as we always have," Wedge said. "We've had conversations about everything. I don't think there are ever any guarantees in this game. "He's only talked about [the job status speculation] when he's had to, because of articles or things that are put out there. He knows I don't read it, so, if he feels like it's something I need to hear, he'll bring it up to me and talk about it." It's clear that Shapiro is still in Wedge's corner. The mystery is whether owner Larry Dolan and his son, team president Paul Dolan, agree. "The Dolans are in charge of this team," Wedge said. "Whatever they say goes, and I respect that." Judging by the bulk of comments in the online universe, if the most vocal of Tribe fans had their say, Wedge would be out the door as the fall guy for a team that has been unable to meet lofty expectations for the past two years. Wedge knows this, and he joked that he might make it a part of his workout program. "If I dodge all those bullets coming my way," he said with a laugh, "I'll be in better shape."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.