With the breaking news that Eric Wedge is the Mariners’ choice to be their next manager, here are some things you might not know about the next M’s skipper:
1, When he was hired as Cleveland Indians manager in October of 2002, Wedge was 34 years old. By Opening Day of 2003, he had turned 35, still younger than three Indians players — Omar Vizquel, Ellis Burks and Terry Mulholland.
2, Eighteen days after he was named Cleveland manager, Wedge married the former Kate Kulniazewski, whom he met while managing in Buffalo.
3, Wedge appeared in 34 games in the majors with Boston and Colorado as a catcher before injuries derailed his career. He had four knee operations and four right elbow surgeries. Wedge underwent the last operation on his arm after he retired so he would be able to throw batting practice. When Mark Shapiro, then the Indians’ farm director, hired Wedge to manage Class A Columbia in 1998, he was 29.
4, As a collegian, Wedge led Wichita State University to the 1989 NCAA championship.
5, One of his teammates at Wichita State was future major league infielder Mike Lansing, whom Wedge later managed at Triple-A Buffalo. In fact, Wedge had to cut Lansing — who nevertheless served as a groomsman in his wedding.
6, Wedge had a celebrated dispute with Milton Bradley in spring training of 2004 after pulling him out of a game for not hustling on a pop fly that fell for a hit. The Indians barred Bradley from training camp the next day and traded him to the Dodgers (for Franklin Gutierrez, of all people) two days later. According to lore, Bradley wore a T-shirt that said “Bleep Eric Wedge,” although he didn’t use “bleep.” Bradley is under Mariners’ contract for $12 million in 2011.
7, Wedge’s pitching coach in Cleveland was Carl Willis, who finished last season in that job with the Mariners. Willis was promoted from minor-league pitching coordinator by the M’s to replace Rick Adair when he was fired, along with Don Wakamatsu,on Aug. 9.
8, The Indians announced they had fired Wedge with six games to go in the 2009 season. He managed those six games anyway. “I just thought it was the right way to finish things off,” he told reporters.
9, Wedge was the last manager to beat Joe Torre with the Yankees. It was in the clinching game of the 2007 Division Series, Oct. 8 at Yankee Stadium. Grady Sizemore homered, and Paul Byrd bested Chien-Ming Wang in a 6-4 Cleveland win.
10, Wedge and his former Red Sox teammate, Mo Vaughn, ran a youth-clinic business called Motivated Sports.
11, Wedge grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he was a great admirer of Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight. When Wedge was named AL Manager of the Year in 2007, Knight sent him a congratulatory message.