CLEVELAND (AP) -Jhonny Peralta is seeing the ball better when he's hitting and fielding. All it took was offseason laser eye surgery.
While his clear vision has helped his entire game, the Cleveland Indians' shortstop said it's really made a difference when he's trying to pick up breaking balls at the plate.
``I didn't see the breaking ball pitch too well,'' Peralta said. ``I tried to use contacts, and they helped a lot. But the contacts bothered me when I put them in my eyes.''
Peralta had surgery on both of his eyes in January, and said he noticed a difference the first time he picked up a bat.
``I see everything real clear,'' he said, smiling.
His numbers in the postseason have been nothing short of dazzling. He's hitting .361 with two homers and nine RBIs, and is a large part of the reason Cleveland has a 3-2 lead over the Boston Red Sox entering Game 6 of the AL championship series on Saturday night.
Peralta said his improved eyesight - he now has 20-20 vision - also has helped him defensively because he can see catcher Victor Martinez's signs.
``There are so many other things he's done and he's worked on,'' Indians manager Eric Wedge said. ``But I am smart enough to say that if you can see the ball a little bit better, it's probably going to help you. So I'm sure that's at least a small part of it.''
TRESSEL FOR TRIBE: Ohio State coach Jim Tressel showed up for interviews Thursday wearing a No. 1 jersey, and that wasn't because his Buckeyes are the nation's top-ranked football team.
Tressel was sporting a Cleveland Indians jersey with TRESSEL stitched across the back.
A native of Berea, Tressel has attended games at Jacobs Field in the past. However, he admitted to not following them as passionately of late, primarily because he's got a busy workload these days.
His crammed schedule - and the late starting times - have made it tough for Tressel to stay up and watch the ALCS on TV.
``We're working and then it's too late,'' he said in Columbus. ``What was the one where we had seven runs in the one inning? After that, I said, 'You guys can handle it.'''
The Indians have another high-profile coach pulling for them. Texas Tech hoops coach Bobby Knight, a native of Orrville, spent the majority of his time at the podium during Big 12 media day earlier this week discussing the ALCS.
Knight, a close friend of St. Louis manager Tony La Russa, even referred to Wedge ``as my next best friend'' and said he was rooting for the Indians.
Wedge said several people had told him about Knight's praise.
``He's a big baseball fan,'' he said.
TORRE REAX: Managers Eric Wedge of the Indians and Terry Francona of the Red Sox both expressed admiration Thursday for Joe Torre, who turned down a $5 million, one-year contract to return as the New York Yankees manager.
Torre led the Yanks to 12 straight playoff appearances and won four World Series championships.
``I hope that however it came down, and nobody knows but Joe and whoever he was dealing with, I hope Joe is happy,'' Francona said. ``I think he deserves the respect, and I think you're going to hear people in baseball, every area of baseball, say probably very, very kind, respectful things about Joe the next couple days, and they're all deserved.''
Wedge called Torre one of the best managers ever and Indians reliever Joe Borowski said it will be weird not seeing him in New York's dugout next year.
``He's been there so long, you expect to see him there,'' said Borowski, who was with the Yankees briefly in 1997 and 1998.
TITO AND TERRY: Francona sat in the dugout before Boston's 7-1 victory over the Indians in Game 5 of the AL championship series with a special visitor.
His dad, former major league outfielder Tito Francona, got to see his son after visiting him briefly after Monday night's first game in Cleveland then being turned away by security at Tuesday night's game, the younger Francona said.
``This Red Sox stuff has been good for him,'' Boston's manager said. ``Is reinvigorated the right word? He lives and dies with each game and it's actually been good for him.''
The elder Francona, 73, didn't constantly offer advice to his son, also a former major league outfielder who goes by the nickname Tito.
``When I was a player, I don't think he ever told me how to hit,'' the manager said. ``He'd take his lawn chair and go sit out in right field and stay out of the way. And it wasn't because he didn't care. I'd ask a million questions and I think he felt like I would figure it out if I was good enough and he knew I paid attention.''
During his 15-year career, Tito Francona played with nine teams. His longest stint with one was five seasons with the Indians from 1959 through 1964. He hit .363 in 1959 but had 399 at-bats, too few to qualify for the batting title.
Now he's pulling for his son.
``For everything he's been through - he's been through a lot - he actually looks terrific. I think every time he has a heart attack he looks better,'' the manager said with a smile.

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