CLEVELAND -- Another week, another team meeting. But rather than gathering in the clubhouse to receive an inspirational message from manager Eric Wedge, the Indians' players were brought together Wednesday to hear the news that Wedge and the entire coaching staff will be relieved of their duties at season's end. While this was big news delivered by general manager Mark Shapiro, it was anything but shocking. The only surprise, however slight, was the timing.
"This is a situation we've known about for a long time," reliever Jensen Lewis said. "We were all under the impression we'd find out at the end of the year. But it's part of the game. We'll take it in stride and try to finish the season strong." The Indians certainly didn't start this season strong, which is why they're accustomed to sweeping changes. Cliff Lee, Victor Martinez, Ben Francisco, Ryan Garko, Carl Pavano and Rafael Betancourt have all been traded over the course of the year. So this current installment of the Tribe has already had a taste of the results of poor play. Changes are made and, now, jobs are lost. Wedge has remained popular with his players through thick and thin. And even in a stale month of September, in which they lost 11 straight games, no one accused them of a lack of effort over an extended period. But the results spoke for themselves, which is why Wednesday's news was unsurprising. "As a team, you don't want to be in this position," said center fielder Grady Sizemore, who is rehabbing following season-ending elbow and groin surgeries. "You hate to lose a guy like Eric, a guy who is respected by his peers and players and staff. It's tough. It's a reflection on all of us. You can't put anything on him. It's how we've played as a group over the last two years, how we've underachieved and not been able to fulfill what we need to do to be a championship team." Sizemore is one of the few remaining members of the 2007 team that Wedge guided to an AL Central crown and a victory over the Yankees in the AL Division Series. "I respect Eric as a manager," Sizemore said. "I like the way he goes about his job and how he treats his players. ... He was always behind his players. Guys respect that. He's an intense manager, and he likes to go to war. He gets you fired up for games. He's going to be tough to replace." Wedge and his coaches are remaining on board through the end of the season, and Wedge said he agreed to that situation because it's what's best for the players. But the Indians have already played amidst the potential distraction of Wedge's tenuous job security throughout the second half, so this is nothing new for them. "It will be difficult," designated hitter Travis Hafner said. "But at the same time, you show up, play hard and try to go out on a good note." Veteran infielder Jamey Carroll said Wedge and his coaches never let the speculation over their security get in the way of doing their jobs. "They are true professionals," Carroll said. "They have too much respect for everyone in this clubhouse to let rumors play a part in how they prepare." As the Indians prepare for the 2010 season, they'll have Wedge's dismissal to serve as a reminder that there are no guarantees in the big leagues. "We're part of the reason this day has come," Lewis said. "There's got to be an adjustment on our end."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.