Wedge looking for leadership
Skipper cites Sizemore, Martinez, DeRosa as examples
CLEVELAND -- Four runs and one win weren't going to satisfy Eric Wedge's needs.The Tribe's manager was critical of his club's offensive approach in the wake of Saturday's 7-1 loss to the Twins, saying that the Indians "aren't kids anymore" and that he's "not going to sit around and watch what we've been watching."
The Tribe responded with an improved performance in Sunday's 4-2 victory to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Twins.Wedge was asked on Monday if he felt his message got through. "We'll find out," Wedge said. "If it hasn't, we'll do whatever it takes to make sure it does. We're not a young team anymore. A lot of our guys are right smack dab in the middle of their career. There are some things happening that shouldn't be happening." Wedge has been speaking specifically about the offense, which, while tied for fifth in the American League in runs scored with 102, has labored for the better part of this homestand. And in general, Wedge believes that the position players are responsible for clubhouse leadership. In his talk with reporters on Monday, Wedge made it clear that the leadership he wants to see has been lacking this year. "We're still coming together as a team," he said. "You always want leadership within your players. There's no team that doesn't need that." In the past year, the Tribe has lost valuable leadership in both the pitching and position player departments. CC Sabathia, Casey Blake and Paul Byrd were traded, and Jake Westbrook landed on the disabled list. And as much as the injured David Dellucci, who is on a rehab assignment at Triple-A Columbus, has been knocked for his performance on the field, there's no denying that he's lent a helping hand to his teammates off it. Still, Wedge believes that the likes of Grady Sizemore, Victor Martinez and the newly acquired Mark DeRosa have the type of clubhouse presence to make up for those notable absences. "We definitely have the people here to do it," Wedge said. "It's just about these guys pushing each other to be the best they can be, every single day." DeRosa, batting .195 and bumped to the lower third of the batting order, admitted that it's difficult to be much of a leader when you're laboring -- especially in a new place. "I've got my own problems right now that I need to address," DeRosa said. "But at the same time, whether you're struggling or hitting .400, it's about doing things the right way and representing your team and respecting the game. I think that's what Wedgie's looking for. We got off to such a slow start. Two or three guys are swinging the bats well. The rest of us are trying to find it. It makes for a tough clubhouse." Leadership, DeRosa said, doesn't necessarily come from being vocal or, as he put it, dropping "philosophical" words of wisdom on your teammates. "It's playing the game the right way," he said. "It's the little things -- running the bases right, putting up good at-bats, knowing the game situations. When you're not doing those things, that's what frustrates managers. As far as leadership goes, we definitely have leadership guys here. It's just a matter of getting a feel for our identity as a team and having guys stepping up and taking that role." Ultimately, Wedge said, he's the leader of this team. And he will be accountable whether or not the Indians, who entered their three-game series with the Red Sox with a 7-12 record, correct themselves and make good on their preseason expectations or continue to tread water in a sea of mediocrity. Wedge surprised some people with the way he lashed out at his club at such an early juncture. He said he'd do that every week if this were a football team. As it stands, he has to pick his spots. "I'm going to work to be consistent and help these guys be the best they can be," Wedge said. "If that means we have to be more upset than usual, then so be it."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.