Shapiro standing by Wedge
CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Indians general manager Mark Shapiro is standing by manager Eric Wedge despite the team's poor start.
The Indians, picked by many to win the AL Central, had a 12-21 record and were in last place in the division going into Tuesday night's game against the Chicago White Sox.
"Right now, I feel the answers are here with Eric, our coaching staff and these players," Shapiro said.
Asked about Wedge later in the session, Shapiro said, "I believe no one cares more about these players and this organization than Eric Wedge. I feel strongly he's making every effort to move this in a positive direction."
Shapiro blames the entire organization for the Indians' struggles.
"Responsibility is across the board," he said. "It rests with the players, it rests with Eric, it rests with the coaching staff and it rests with the front office. Accountability rides with me."
While the Indians have had problems in many areas of the club, the bullpen has been the biggest culprit. Cleveland relievers had squandered several late-inning leads and were 4-7 with a 6.18 ERA going into Tuesday's action. Several changes in the bullpen have already been made.
"There are components of the club where we feel we need to get better and may not have the answers here right now," Shapiro said. "Obviously, you've seen us make some changes over the past week. You're going to see us make more changes in the coming weeks.
"There's clearly a sense of urgency across the board," he added.
Even center fielder and leadoff man Grady Sizemore, who has made the All-Star team the last three seasons, is struggling. Sizemore is batting .226 with six homers and 23 RBIs and has been successful in only half of his 10 stolen-base attempts.
"He's a great player going through a tough time," Shapiro said. "If there's any guy in this league and certainly on this team that deserves patience, it's that guy. He's going to work hard. We need him to be better, but I'm not worried about him at all."
Sizemore isn't the only key player who is struggling. Shortstop Jhonny Peralta is batting .246 with one homer and 13 RBIs while first baseman Ryan Garko, catcher Kelly Shoppach and left fielder Ben Francisco have also struggled. Designated hitter Travis Hafner is on the disabled list with a sore right shoulder, an injury that limited him to 57 games last season.
"We've got a lot of players who have track records who are not young players anymore who have had success that are performing well below career averages," Shapiro said. "In those players, in almost every instance, we believe in their talent. It doesn't ease our concern or the sense of urgency that there are so many guys [struggling] across the board, but I do believe in those guys."
Catcher Victor Martinez said a few days ago the team was missing the fire and energy it took to be successful.
"There was a time for all of us involved -- there was some disappointment with how our club was responding," Shapiro said. "Never with the effort level. There was a lack of energy as a natural byproduct of going through some disappointment [and] how we were losing. We had some very tough losses in the bullpen. I don't think that's been an issue in the last 10 days. "
Shapiro has met individually with Wedge and each member of the coaching staff. He has also conducted several meetings with his front office staff. Ultimately, Shapiro thinks it's up to the players presently on the team to turn the Indians' fortunes around.
"We're not going to turn the whole thing over," he said. "It's not going to happen."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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