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Notes: Wedge likes club's makeup

Notes: Wedge likes club's makeup

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CLEVELAND -- Three hours away from his club's first postseason game under his command, Eric Wedge was loose, relaxed and animatedly embroiled in a conversation about, of all things, the Michael Keaton movie, "The Paper."

A reporter had inadvertently walked into a private meeting in Wedge's office and was asked to leave, prompting Wedge to remember advice given by Keaton's character in that 1994 flick.

"You walk into some place with a good, firm, confident look and a clipboard in your hand," Wedge said with a laugh, "and you can get in anywhere."

The inherent lesson is to act like you've been there before.

Wedge certainly acted that way in his interview session with reporters before Game 1 of the ALDS against the Yankees.

"I'm excited to get it going and watch our guys play," Wedge said. "That's what I keep coming back to. I feel like we're a team, in the truest sense of the word. I say that with hesitancy, because so many people use that word. But with this group of people, it does apply. I know the ball bounces funny ways, but I also know this team can separate from day to day."

Wedge has to hope his club can separate from some tendencies that would lead one to believe the Yankees have the upper hand in this series. For one, there's the obvious -- the Tribe's 0-6 record against the Yanks this season.

But another set of numbers was brought up before Wedge, and that's the discrepancy between his club's batting average with runners in scoring position and that of the Yanks. The Indians ranked 12th in the AL with a .255 mark in such situations, where as the Yankees ranked second with a .293 average.

The Indians also batted a measly .190 with a runner at third (and only at third) this season. These are numbers worth pointing out, given the need to come through in the clutch that will inevitably arise in October baseball.

But like all numbers from the regular season, the laid-back Wedge isn't harping on them.

"I really feel that you've got to throw all the numbers out," he said. "It's all about today. The matchups can be real if they're somewhat current. But the numbers and stats are all comparisons. When it comes to game time and how we play, you throw that out the window. We know what these guys are capable of, and I think they have a good idea of how we play."

Wedge wants his players to follow Keaton's advice. Act like you belong. Minus the clipboard, of course.

Return of Pronk: Though Wedge talks about throwing regular-season stats out the window, he does not ignore what Travis Hafner was able to do the last few weeks of the regular season.

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Pronk's troubles throughout '07 were well-documented. But if he can carry what he did in September -- a .316 average, five homers and 23 RBIs -- the Indians' lineup takes on new dimensions of potency.

"I feel really good about what he's been doing the last couple weeks with his swing," Wedge said. "He's really getting it going at the right time for us. You have such high expectations for a hitter like that, but that's part of being a great player, and he understands that and accepts that and takes it on. He's learned how to handle it over the course of this year, and you're really seeing a guy who's capable of doing some damage for us."

Here's the question ... In Game 5 of the 1997 ALDS between the Indians and Yankees, who hit the two-run, ground-rule double that gave the Indians what turned out to be the decisive run in a 4-3 victory?

Rooting interest: Reaching the postseason with the Indians has special significance to rookie reliever Jensen Lewis, who was born in nearby Medina, Ohio, and grew up rooting for the Tribe, even when his family relocated to Cincinnati.

The 23-year-old Lewis was pumped to see Jacobs Field in its full October glory.

"It's going to be electric," he said. "The Jake's going to be rocking. It's going to be just like '97."

Lewis' father, Michael, made a business trip to Las Vegas earlier this week and figured he'd miss Game 1 of the series, which had a chance of taking place Wednesday.


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"I told him, 'Well, cheer up, we're starting Thursday,'" Lewis said. "He's going to be on the earliest flight out of Vegas [on Thursday] to get back."

Cool cat: Wedge was asked how he thinks Asdrubal Cabrera will handle the October spotlight. The manager has little reason to believe the rookie Cabrera will struggle under the glare, given how comfortable he's looked in his first two months in the big leagues.

"Here he is, two months into it, and he's all caught up," Wedge said. "He enjoys playing, he competes and he's been taught well. He has a great feel for the game."

Tribe tidbits: For those keeping track of such things, Wedge neither confirmed nor denied that he's growing a playoff beard. But the increased stubble on his face has been noticeable the last couple days. "Oh, I don't know," Wedge said when asked of the matter. "I just didn't shave this morning." ... Wedge has been given advice from all corners of the baseball globe the past week. The advice, though, has been consistent. "You talk to people you respect and have been in the game a long time," he said. "The biggest thing they say is to enjoy it. Go out, let your team play and enjoy the ride." ... Thursday's game was the Tribe's 58th playoff game since 1995. They were 29-28 in the first 57 games.

And the answer is ... Manny Ramirez had that clutch double. He had batted just .111 in the series before that point.

On deck: Game 2 of the ALDS has an earlier start time of 5 p.m. ET. Right-hander Fausto Carmona (19-8, 3.06 ERA) will oppose Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte (15-9, 4.05).

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["division_series" ] }
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