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Notes: Making most of schedule

Notes: Making most of schedule

CLEVELAND -- You won't find Eric Wedge complaining about the extra off-days in the American League Championship Series schedule this year.

After all, they helped Wedge's Indians get within a victory of clinching the pennant.

With an off-day between Games 2 and 3 and between Games 4 and 5, Wedge has been able to manipulate his bullpen to his own advantage.

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The greatest example of this comes with his use of Rafael Betancourt in Game 2. Betancourt worked 2 1/3 innings and threw 42 pitches that night. It was the first time all season he had worked into a third inning.

Thanks to Sunday's off-day, Betancourt was nonetheless available for Monday's Game 3, in which he pitched a perfect inning. And with Wednesday's off-day looming, Wedge had no problem going to Betancourt again for two perfect innings in Game 4 on Tuesday.

If Wedge had the time, he'd probably fill out a thank you card for the schedule makers.

All is apparently forgiven after the mess of those April snow-outs and the loss of in-season off-days that came with it.

"It does have an impact on your bullpen, knowing that you're going to have an off-day," Wedge said. "You can tend to be a little more aggressive. Because you do know the schedule ahead of time, in regard to the off-days you're going to have, you can plan it out ahead of time. It's always going to change, but at least you have a starting point."

The LCS schedule always has an off-day between Games 2 and 3. But the extra one added this year, between Games 4 and 5, has some crying foul.

Not Wedge. Forget all that talk of "carrying momentum" from Game 4 to Game 5. He was happy with the extra rest afforded his players on Wednesday.

"I've been fine with all the off-days," Wedge said. "I think our team has benefited from it. I think, as our guys gain more experience, they do a better job handling off-days and what they have to do mentally and physically to give themselves a break."

No average Joe: The Indians found themselves on the verge of a potential World Series berth on Thursday, but the talk around baseball centered on Joe Torre's decision to turn down a one-year contract offer from the Yankees.

That ends Torre's 12-year tenure at the helm of the storied franchise. Wedge was particularly vocal on his feelings about Torre during the AL Division Series, when rumors of his potential dismissal first surfaced, and that didn't change on Thursday.

"I've got all the respect in the world for him as a person, player and manager," Wedge said. "I believe a person who's accomplished all he's accomplished should manage as long as he wants to. He's one of the greatest managers of all time. What's as important as anything is he treats people the way they ought to be treated. But [Torre's situation] is what it is."

Booster on the bench: It seems like ages ago that David Dellucci was the Tribe's regular left fielder. Signed to a three-year contract last winter, Dellucci was expected to be a key contributor to the middle of the Indians' order.

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Instead, he batted a mere .234 with four homers and 20 RBIs in 54 games before tearing his left hamstring on June 19, all but ending his season. Dellucci rehabbed all summer and had three pinch-hit at-bats at the tail end of the regular season.

A member of the 2001 Diamondbacks team that won it all, Dellucci has found himself in the role of cheerleader this October.

"It's been extremely difficult," he said. "I'm happy for the guys and what they've been doing, and I'm doing my part to cheer them on. But sitting on the side, watching the game and knowing I have no chance to make a difference is pretty hard, from a competitive standpoint. I understand 100 percent that for me to make a bid to be on the postseason roster after having only three at-bats since June 19 is pretty tough."

Close ties: When the Indians clinched the AL Central crown last month, one of the first people general manager Mark Shapiro reached out to was John Farrell, pitching coach for the Red Sox and former director of player development for the Tribe.

"You should have been on the field with us," Shapiro recalled telling his old friend, "because you played a role in the development of a lot of these guys."

Though the Indians are heavily reliant this season on the young players groomed during Farrell's time with the Indians, Farrell isn't taking much credit for the Tribe's position.

"I was one of many guys who contributed to an overall plan there," he said. "To say there's one person solely responsible would be ludicrous. I feel fortunate to have helped contribute to that."

Generally speaking: Bobby Knight used his Big 12 media day press conference to address his team.

Not the Texas Tech men's basketball team, mind you. The Indians.

An Ohio native, "The General" grew up a Tribe fan. He remains one, to this day, when he's not rooting for his good buddy Tony La Russa.

Knight met Wedge when Wedge paid a visit to the Texas Tech-Ohio State game in Columbus in 2004 and telegrammed the Indians skipper the other day to congratulate him on winning The Sporting News' AL Manager of the Year Award.

"The Cardinals are out of it," Knight told reporters. "We've got to root for the Indians. Eric Wedge is my next best friend, so he's doing pretty good."

Said Wedge: "He's always been a big baseball fan."

Tribe tidbits: The Indians are just the third team in history to score seven or more runs in one inning twice in a postseason series. In 1970, the Orioles scored seven runs in one inning in Games 1 and 2 of an ALCS sweep of the Twins. In 1936, the Yankees scored seven runs in one inning in Games 2 and 6 of a World Series win over the New York Giants. ... The Indians have homered in six straight and seven of their eight postseason games.

On deck: The Indians hope what's on deck for Friday is a day off to celebrate an AL pennant. But if that's not the case, they'll board a flight to Boston, where Game 6 would take place on Saturday night at 8:23 p.m. ET. Right-hander Fausto Carmona would oppose right-hander Curt Schilling.

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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