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Astros expect decision this week

Houston Astros: While the Mets are making a move on Carlos Beltran, the Astros expect to know whether the star outfielder's decision soon.

"We told him we certainly needed an answer by the latter part of this week," McLane told the Houston Chronicle for Tuesday's editions.

The team has until Jan. 8 to re-sign Beltran, but expects to know before then whether he'll return.

"Scott [Boras, Beltran's agent] told Tim [Purpura, Houston's GM]and [president of baseball operations] Tal [Smith] that it would not go to that Jan. 8 deadline," McLane told the Chronicle.

The Yankees, Tigers and Cubs have also expressed interest in Beltran.

New York Yankees: Free agent Jaret Wright and the New York Yankees
finalized a $21 million, three-year contract Wednesday, announcing
the deal on the pitcher's 29th birthday.

"It's probably the best birthday present you could ever get,"
Wright said on a conference call from California. "I've been
looking forward to something like this for a long time."

Wright and the Yankees reached a preliminary agreement Dec. 7.
Since losing to Boston in the AL championship series, New York also
has added free-agent pitcher Carl Pavano to the rotation and tried
to work out a trade for Arizona ace Randy Johnson.

Wright was 15-8 with a 3.28 ERA for Atlanta last season, then
lost both of his starts in the first round of the playoffs against
Houston. The right-hander is 52-45 with a 5.09 ERA in a career that
began in 1997 with Cleveland and nearly ended because of shoulder
trouble.

Wright's contract calls for annual salaries of $7 million. If he
in on the disabled list because of a shoulder injury for a combined
75 days or more during the first two years, the Yankees can opt out
of his salary for 2007 and pay a $4 million buyout.

If he doesn't go on the DL for 75 days or more because of a
shoulder injury during the first two years, the third season
becomes a player option. If Wright decides to end the contract
after two years and become a free agent again, he would not get the
buyout.

Hall-of-Famer injured: George Kell of
Swifton, Ark., was listed in stable condition at a Little Rock hospital after he was involved in a traffic accident.

Kell, 82, was involved in a collision with a tractor-trailer Tuesday on U.S. 67 near Campbell Station, north of Newport. He was taken to a local hospital, then transferred to a Little Rock hospital.

After a 15-year career with American League teams, the 1949 American League batting champion and 10-time All-Star was inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., in 1983.

Kell played with five teams over the course of his major league career, beginning with the Philadelphia Athletics and then moving to the Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox before ending with the Baltimore Orioles.

Once his physical talents could no longer help him on the diamond, he turned to his vocal gifts from 1959 to 1996 as a member of the Tigers' broadcast team. His voice became nationally
recognized and is now legend in the game of baseball.

Minnesota Twins: The Twins plan to have Hall of Fame experience on the field during spring training.

Rod Carew will be there in uniform as a member of the instructional staff, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

The Twins have also invited Paul Molitor, who has not yet responded.