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Cleveland Indians

Wedge keeps the heat on

By Sheldon Published: April 27, 2009

There's no indication that Indians batsmen have overcome their collective problems at the plate.

Consequently, manager Eric Wedge is trying to keep the pressure on to help the hitters make amends for their ineffective approach at the plate. 

Asked if he thought the hitters had gotten the message, Wedge said, ""If they haven't, I'll make sure they do. We're not a young team anymore. We're not old, either, but we have lots of guys who are right smack dab in the middle of their careers. 

""A lot of things have happened that shouldn't. We've always done things one way here, and that isn't going to change.''

Going into Monday night's game against the Red Sox, the Tribe had scored 11 runs and sustained three losses in the previous five games. Over this span, the team batting average is .238 overall and .216 with runners in scoring position. Moreover, the Indians have hit only one home run -- a three-run blast by Grady Sizemore  -- in the past five games. 

Wedge obviously feels more urgency to be proactive because of the team's poor start, but he also knows that corrective measures can be achieved more quickly if team leaders become involved.

""I'm not making any excuses,'' Wedge said. ""I'm the leader of this club; I'm the manager. If I have to get upset, if I have to talk about myself, so be it. Basically, I know we're a lot better club. I take full responsiblity, but what other players can do for other players is priceless.''

Wedge doesn't think there is a leadership vacuum in the clubhouse, despite the losses of C.C. Sabathia, Casey Blake and others from last year.

""It has to be position players who are in there every day,'' Wedge said. ""They're the ones that have to lead the way. And we definitely have people who can do it.''

Wedge also realizes that relatively few players will get out front and lead.  

""More times than not, people wait around for somebody else to do something,'' he said.

And when almost an entire lineup stops hitting?

""That should not happen,'' Wedge said. ""Should not H-A-P-P-E-N.''

NO (WAKE)UP CALL FOR HAFNER -- With knuckleball specialist Tim Wakefield starting for the Red Sox, Wedge decided to give Travis Hafner a second consecutive game off. 

Not only is Hafner 0-for-9 against Wakefield, Wedge feared that altering his swing to hit a knuckleball might ruin his swing for several days.

""I'm not crazy about Hafner hitting against a knuckleballer,'' the manager said. ""He's worked too hard to find his swing (after returning from surgery).'' 

A NEW THREAT -- Wedge is mindful that Jacoby Ellsbury stole home Sunday night against the Yankees. 

"I think we'll keep an eye on him,'' the manager said.

COLOR HIM SILVER, GOLD -- Before Monday night's game, Grady Sizemore was presented with his 2008 Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards. 

Sizemore has won Gold Gloves the past two seasons. This was his first Silver Slugger Award.  Before Sizemore was so honored in 2007, no Tribe player had won a Gold Glove since 2001, when Roberto Alomar and Omar Vizquel were winners. last Cleveland player to win a Silver Slugger Award was Victor Martinez in 2004. 

LAPORTA HONORED -- Columbus outfielder Matt LaPorta was named International League Batter of the Week for hitting .520, scoring 10 runs and compiling a .613 on-base percentage over the past seven days. 

He ranks fourth in the league in average (.400), is tied for second in home runs (5), tied for third in hits (24) and is first in slugging percentage (.767) and runs (19).

FARM FACTS -- Josh Barfield had two hits and two RBI, raising his average to .375, but Columbus lost 5-4 to Indianapolis. Toma Ohka delivered six scoreless innings, giving up two hits... Matt McBride lifted his average to .380 with a home run and a single, as Kinston beat Lynchburg 6-3. Eric Berger (2-1, 1.42 ERA) worked five scoreless innings, giving up three hits while walking none and striking out six.

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