Former Cleveland Indians manager Eric Wedge will be announced as the new manager of the Seattle Mariners, according to multiple reports.
A source in the Mariners organization said an official announcement might not come till next week. Teams must receive permission from commissioner Bud Selig to make major announcements during the postseason.
Reports earlier today said that candidates Bobby Valentine and John Gibbons had been notified by the Mariners that they would not be receiving the job.
Wedge, 42, managed the Indians from 2003 to 2009, compiling a 561-573 record.
In 2007, the Indians went 96-66, won the American League Central, beat the Yankees 3-1 in the ALDS and were one game away from beating the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS to go to the World Series. Wedge was named AL manager of the year that season.
Expectations were high for the Indians for the following season. They had CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Jake Westbrook and Fausto Carmona in the rotation, and Grady Sizemore, Victor Martinez, Travis Hafner, Casey Blake, Ryan Garko and Jhonny Peralta in the lineup.
But the team crumpled under expectations and lack of production. Westbrook and Hafner got hurt and missed most of the season, Martinez also missed several games with elbow problems, Sabathia started off slowly and then was eventually traded, as was Blake and closer Joe Borowski.
In 2009, they got off to another slow start with Hafner, Sizemore and Asdrubal Cabrera spending time on the DL. And they never recovered. Lee, who wasn’t sharp early in the season, was traded at the deadline, as was Martinez, and the losses piled up. On Sept. 29 of that season, the team announced Wedge wouldn’t return.
Wedge was catcher for Wichita State, helping lead the Shockers to the College World Series title in 1989, hitting .380 and earning All-American honors.
He was drafted in the third round of the 1989 draft by the Boston Red Sox. He made his major league debut in 1991. In 1992, he played 27 games for the Red Sox. Following that season, Wedge was selected by the Colorado Rockies in the expansion draft, appearing in nine games for the Rockies in the 1993 season. He played nine seasons professionally and appeared in 39 major league games, hitting .233 (20-for-86) with two doubles, five homers and 12 RBI
Wedge began his managerial career in 1998 for Class A Columbus and worked his way up the ranks taking over the Indians managerial job before the 2003 season. At 35 years and 64 days old, he became the team’s youngest manager since Lou Boudreau was a player/manager at age 24 in 1942.
Wedge has ties to the current Mariners organization. Seattle interim pitching coach Carl Willis was Wedge’s pitching coach during his tenure in Cleveland.
Perhaps the other more infamous link to the Cleveland days is outfielder/DH Milton Bradley. Wedge managed Bradley for the 2003 season and part way into spring training of 2004. It was an uneasy relationship at best.
Their personalities clashed. In 2003, Bradley was talented, but perhaps even more volatile than today. The two had minor disagreements throughout the season. In spring training of 2004, after Bradley had vowed to change his ways, Wedge benched Bradley in an exhibition game after failing to run out a pop fly that dropped for a hit. There was a heated exchange and Bradley was banned from the spring training complex and the Indians traded him a few days later for current center fielder Franklin Gutierrez.
And of course, there was the fact that Bradley wore a t-shirt around the clubhouse saying, $%^& Eric Wedge.
Wedge does not have a flashy personality. It’s been labeled a “quiet intensity.” It was one of the criticisms fans had about in him Cleveland.
“He’s a blue-collar worker, a hard-nosed guy, extremely honest and consistent,” GM Mark Shapiro said after Wedge was fired. “This is an entertainment business and maybe he wasn’t flamboyant enough. Fans want to feel the emotion and Eric, to protect the players, didn’t do that.”
Wedge has been labeled a players manager, who expects a lot from his players, but will fiercely protect them from criticism.
Even after Wedge was fired in Cleveland, he wouldn’t lay blame at a reduced payroll, trades, injuries or underachieving players, saying:
”It’s my job to go out there and win ballgames,” he said. ”There’s not an asterisk next to it that says only if you have this, that or the other.
”I’m a big believer in being accountable for what you do. I preach it to the players. I preach it to people around me. And that’s the way I live. I take responsibility for this.”
”How our players play, how they act, the way they represent the Cleveland Indians, the way we play the game,” Wedge said. ”You always hear me talking about respecting the game and being a good teammate.
”They’re the two most important things that you can do in this game, and then you have to go out there and play well.”