Indians give Wedge 3-year pact extension

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CLEVELAND – Eric Wedge wasn’t too worried about his future. The Cleveland Indians put him at ease anyway.

The fifth-year manager, who has yet to make the postseason in the majors, received a three-year contract extension on Monday, an early reward for having his ballclub near the top in the AL Central.

Wedge was signed through the 2007 season with the club holding a club option for 2008 and 2009.

But with Cleveland (54-37) trailing the first-place Detroit Tigers by just a half-game entering the week and leading the wild-card chase, the Indians, who have made a habit of locking up core members of their organization to long-term deals, decided the time was right to extend Wedge through the 2010 season.

“This is a guy who has maximized the talent on this team,” general manager Mark Shapiro said, offering the development of youngsters Jhonny Peralta and Ryan Garko as prime examples. “And he’s a guy who the players respect. I think it’s the right thing to do and it maximizes the positive environment we have now.”

Financial terms were not immediately available.

Shapiro and Wedge had shelved contract talks during spring training, deciding at the time to put them off until after the season. However, Shapiro approached Wedge about the extension during the All-Star break, and the manager, who negotiated his own deal, was able to secure a long-term commitment.

Wedge said he didn’t feel any pressure to get the extension completed, and would have been OK if talks had waited until the offseason.

“I understand that this is a great sport, but it’s also a business,” Wedge said. “I’m honored to be the manager of the Cleveland Indians and I’m grateful something did come of this. I couldn’t be happier.”

The Indians are 373-366 under the 39-year-old Wedge, who became the club’s 39th manager before the 2003 season.

Giambi focused on playing again this season

TAMPA, Fla. – Fresh off his talk with baseball’s steroids investigator, New York Yankees slugger Jason Giambi is focusing on playing again this season.

Giambi has been sidelined since May 30 after tearing tissue in his left foot. The former AL MVP didn’t rule out returning in a few weeks and spoke with Roger Clemens and teammates during the Yankees’ series at Tampa Bay over the weekend.

“I came in and saw the guys,” Giambi said. “They know the type of person I am, so I really wasn’t really worried about it. They were great. I saw Rocket here yesterday. They were like ‘Hurry up and get back. We need you.”‘ Giambi was interviewed by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell and his staff about steroids last Friday in New York. The Yankees star declined to talk about the meeting. “I cannot. I’ve been asked not to comment about it. Sorry about that,” Giambi said Monday.

“My biggest thing is, I was more concerned about getting back going and hopefully get a chance to come down here and start rehabbing and get back to playing baseball. Not worrying about anything else,” he said.

Giambi previously admitted he had a “personal history regarding steroids.” He agreed to the session after baseball commissioner Bud Selig threatened to discipline him if he didn’t speak to Mitchell. Last month, Giambi said he wouldn’t implicate other players.

Giambi was given permission by the Yankees’ medical staff late last week to resume working out at the spring training complex in Tampa.

Clemens worked out at the complex before joining the team at Tropicana Field for Sunday’s series finale with the Devil Rays.

“I’m excited to be doing something – getting that opportunity to come out here, get working, and finally do something instead of sitting around,” Giambi said.

“The biggest thing is try not to go fast, but I want to go fast enough where I can hopefully come back and make a difference. I’m at that point where I need to do more to find out what I could do and what I couldn’t do. I’m going to push more and more each day, but I also don’t want to get to the point where I put myself back at square one either,” he said.

AP-ES-07-16-07 1735EDT

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