CLEVELAND: Managers are made not born, but who makes them?
In just 10 days, Eric Wedge will complete his seventh season as manager of the Indians. Even though he has a contract for 2010, Wedge might not be back. More than likely, we will learn Wedge's fate one or two days after the schedule has been played out on Oct. 4.
Regardless of whether Wedge returns next year, he will have made an impact in Cleveland. Only four managers have guided the Tribe longer than Wedge, who is fifth in wins (557) and is one of only four Cleveland skippers to win a postseason series.
Two distinctive Wedge traits: He always is prepared, and he is consistent in the way he treats his players, whether things are going well on the field or not. Wedge's standards seem so ingrained in his personality, one would think he grew up his goal was to be a manager.
""I paid attention to being a catcher when I was a kid,'' Wedge said Wednesday. ""I did like Sparky Anderson, because I was a fan of the Big Red Machine. Those were pretty good teams in Cincinnati.''
Wedge grew up in Indiana and longed to be in the big leagues as a player. He made it with the Red Sox, but injuries prevented him from having a lengthy career. But he stayed in the game, managing in the Indians' farm system for five years before being elevated to the job in Cleveland.
Wedge can't point to a particular mentor along the way.
""I don't think there there was one person,'' he said. ""I've taken things from a lot of managers. I've done and learned things from seeing other people do them and from talking to people.
""I will say that (Atlanta manager) Bobby Cox is a guy I have the utmost respect for. But I only know him from conversations when we've played each other.''
Wedge firmly believes that when a team is winning, the manager should do less. And he has always maintained -- like most skippers -- that the most effective leadership comes not from the manager but from the players.
""When a team is going good, that's when you have to try and stay out of the way,'' he said. ""And more times than not, you need to have guys in the clubhouse to take care of things. Like in '07, it was Trot Nixon or Casey Blake or C.C. (Sabathia). Guys like that.''
LAPORTA UPDATE -- Matt LaPorta (inflamed left hip) took batting practice Wednesday but was held out of the lineup.
""It's still there,'' manager Eric Wedge said of the soreness. ""He's not going to do much besides take BP. He's still day to day.''
The proximate cause of the injury was making a dash for the plate on Trevor Crowe's second-inning single Tuesday night. But Wedge thinks something else might have played a part.
""I guarantee you it's moving from the outfield to the infield,'' he said. ""You use different muscles in each position. But you can't do anything different. There's no transition for doing that.''
SMITH GETTING CLOSE? -- Joe Smith (sprained knee) threw off a mound Tuesday and will do so again today.
""I feel good, and I want to get back out there,'' he said. ""I'd like to get in a couple of games to make sure everything is OK going into the off season.''
Wedge has expressed optimism that Smith would be back in the bullpen before the season ends. Smith is scheduled to throw either a bullpen or a simulated game Saturday. After that, it's possible he could return to the active roster.
ICE COLD -- Jhonny Peralta began Wednesday night's game burdened with an 0-for-25 streak.
""Even when he's hit the ball hard, he hasn't had a lot of luck,'' Wedge said. ""Jhonny's had an interesting year, making the transition from short to third.''
But Wedge doesn't think switching positions in midstream has affected his hitting.
NATIONAL EXPOSURE -- In addition to being aired by STO, tonight's game between the Indians and Tigers will be televised to a national audience on the MLB Network. Victor Rojas and Mitch Williams will call the game.