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Indians give Peralta extension through 2010

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- Jhonny Peralta and the Cleveland
Indians both got the security they sought Friday when the shortstop
agreed to a $13 million, five-year contract with a club option for
2011.

Peralta emerged as one of the top offensive shortstops in
baseball last year, his first full season in the major leagues. He
batted .292 with 24 home runs and 78 RBI in 141 games, setting a
franchise record for homers by a shortstop with one more than
Woodie Held hit in 1961.

"I think I can do even better this season," Peralta said. "I
feel much more comfortable."

An ecstatic Peralta said he now can support his parents
comfortably in retirement.

"When I was a boy, I dreamed of being a baseball player. I
never thought of being a millionaire," he said. "But now, I can
take care of my family without having to worry about anything
except playing baseball."

Peralta's agent, Bill Rego, said the deal is "one of the top
two" for a shortstop not yet eligible for arbitration. Nomar Garciaparra got $23.25 million over five years with the Boston Red Sox in 1998.

"This may be the best day of spring training thus far,"
Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said.

Peralta gets a $1.25 million signing bonus, $500,000 this
season, $750,000 next year, $2.25 million in 2008, $3.4 million in
2009 and $4.6 million in 2010. Cleveland has a $7 million option
for 2011 with a $250,000 buyout.

Team president Paul Dolan said he was confident that increased
attendance and proposed revenue from a new TV deal would enable the
Indians to make similar offers to other players.

"There is no artificial cutoff on signing long-term deals,"
Dolan said.

Assistant general manager Chris Antonetti, who handled most of
the negotiations, said the deal is patterned after one given to
Cleveland catcher Victor Martinez. Last April, the Indians signed
the switch-hitter through 2009 with a club option for 2010.

Future long-term deals could be structured differently,
according to Antonetti.

"Each player is different and we may or may not see one like
this again," Antonetti said.

Shapiro said the club is talking with two key players about
possible extensions, believed to be left-hander Cliff Lee and
center fielder Grady Sizemore.

"If we can't get something done by the end of spring training,
we'll stop," Shapiro said. "We will not negotiate during the
season."

Peralta was put in the unenviable position of replacing fan
favorite Omar Vizquel, who left as a free agent after the 2004
season. Peralta got off to a slow start last year, hitting .222 in
April and making nine errors in his first 46 games, before
blossoming during the summer.

"I knew some fans were going crazy because of those errors and
comparing me to Omar," Peralta said. "I was feeling it a
little."

From May 6 until the end of the season, however, Peralta hit
.302 with 23 homers and 74 RBI in 121 games to help propel the
Indians into contention in the AL Central.

He spent much of the first half of 2005 batting ninth. When
designated hitter Travis Hafner was injured, manager Eric Wedge
moved Peralta into the No. 3 spot with successful results. Peralta
went 2-for-4 with a homer and two RBI on July 23, his first game
hitting third, and stayed there the rest of the season.

"He didn't blink and how he handled that move mentally drove
our confidence in making this offer," Shapiro said.