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Wedge Relishes Another Shot With Jays



TORONTO
—After two years at ESPN following his split with the Mariners, Eric Wedge was ready to get back in the game. That opportunity came when Mark Shapiro took over as president and CEO of the Blue Jays. Along with general manager Ross Atkins, Shapiro hired Wedge, the former manager, as a player development advisor.
"I just missed being part of something that felt like it could potentially be special,” Wedge said, "and I felt like with Mark and Ross, as well as everybody else, it was a way to help others, be a part of something and make a difference with these players.” Wedge, who managed Shapiro’s Indians from 2003 to 2009, is starting his new gig by working closely with Gil Kim, the club’s new player-development director. One point of priority will be creating the type of top-down integration of the minor league side with the big league club, something Wedge believes must be a priority. "It has to be structured as such so that everyone is working in the same direction,” he said. "There has to be one message to players . . . It’s got to be foundation-based. We’re not just looking to push players through the system. You want to make sure they have a solid base so if they do rise to the big leagues, they can stay there.” Wedge posted a 561-573 (.495) record over seven seasons with the Indians, making one trip to the postseason in 2007. He managed the Mariners from 2011 until he left at the end of 2013. He enjoyed his two seasons of broadcasting, but when he decided to get back in the game, Wedge was "looking to do it with people interested in doing it the right way, who have done it the right way before and understand what it takes to build a consistent winner.” JAYS CHATTER • The Blue Jays and short-season Vancouver extended their player-development contract through 2018. Last year, the Northwest League club set a franchise attendance record by drawing 215,595 fans to Nat Bailey Stadium. "The Canadians’ relationship with the Blue Jays remains as strong as ever,” managing general partner Jake Kerr said, "and we appreciate the quality of young men they have sent to represent our city and organization.” • A minor league deal for veteran righthanded reliever David Aardsma
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Can Eric Wedge Restore Wichita State To Prominence?

Wedge is the first college coach to have managed in the major leagues since Don Kessinger returned to Ole Miss in 1991.

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