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Wood set to take physical for Indians

Wood set to take physical for Indians

LAS VEGAS -- Kerry Wood was in Cleveland on Wednesday night, and he is slated to take a physical on Thursday.

Should Wood pass the physical, it is expected that he will sign a two-year contract with the Indians worth just under $20 million. It is believed the contract will include an option for a third year, though it is not clear whether that option would be a club option, player option or vesting option.

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The physical is at least a two-day process and the paperwork would have to be completed, as well. So if the Wood deal goes through, it probably won't be announced until early next week.

"We've made progress," said general manager Mark Shapiro, "but there's no such thing as a deal until it's completed. And we do not have a done deal at the moment."

The Indians are cautiously optimistic that the deal will get done, but they also know these things can fall apart in a hurry. Passing their physical is no easy task, and it's no secret Wood has had more than his share of injury woes over the years.

"Until it's done, it's just not," manager Eric Wedge said. "And we're working on multiple fronts with our ballclub with the closing situation. You know, we're not leaving any stone unturned, and we're not assuming anything or taking anything for granted. We're just going to keep working."

The Indians have been working to find a closer all winter, but their work picked up a notch this week, when Francisco Rodriguez came to his three-year, $37 million agreement with the Mets. That loosened up the screws on the closer's market, and the Indians' talks with Wood's agent, Pat Rooney, heated up Monday at the Bellagio.

Should the Wood deal be completed, as expected, the 31-year-old would take over the club's closing duties from Jensen Lewis. Wood went 5-4 with a 3.26 ERA and 34 saves in 40 chances over 65 appearances for the Cubs last season, striking out 84 batters and walking 18 in 66 1/3 innings.

The knock on Wood is his extensive medical history. His elbow required Tommy John ligament replacement surgery in 1999, and he had right shoulder surgery performed in 2005. His health has stabilized since a 2007 move to relief work. He went on the 15-day disabled list in '08 -- his first season as a closer -- but that was with a blister on his finger, not an arm injury.

It is believed that the Indians were satisfied with the medical reports they received on Wood, but the physical will allow them to put him through their own evaluations.

As for what Wood would bring to the Tribe, he's the type of hard-thrower this club hasn't had in the closer's role since Jose Mesa. And he has the potential to stabilize what was a wayward Indians bullpen in '08.

"To have a legitimate closer with experience and dominant stuff would be an ideal scenario for us heading into Spring Training," Shapiro said. "We would have the makings of a good 'pen."

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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