Indians, closer Wood close to deal

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians only need a positive note
from their doctors to make Kerry Wood their closer.

Wood took a physical on Thursday and the club is awaiting the
test results before completing a contract with the free-agent
right-hander, who has a long history of arm and elbow problems.

The Indians reached a preliminary agreement on a two-year deal
worth a reported $20 million with Wood during the winter meetings
in Las Vegas. The contract includes a third-year option.

Wood saved 34 games in 2008, his first season closing for the
Chicago Cubs. Wood's deal is contingent on him passing the medical
examination, and even if he does get a clean bill of health, there
is still paperwork to complete so it may be a few days before the
Indians announce Wood's signing.

Wood went 5-4 with a 3.26 ERA last season with the Cubs, who
converted him from a starter to a reliever in 2007. He has been
healthy since moving to the bullpen after several seasons that
included trips to the disabled list and operating room.

The Indians are confident Wood will pass the physical, but they
are not taking any chances. A few years ago, a trade involving
shortstop Omar Vizquel fell through because of a failed medical

General manager Mark Shapiro's top priority this winter was a
closer, and once Francisco Rodriguez - the cream of this year's
closer class - went to the New York Mets, the Indians moved quickly
to get Wood.

The 31-year-old, who underwent Tommy John elbow surgery in 1999,
may not throw as consistently hard as he did earlier in his career,
but he can still pump his fastball over 96 mph and will give
Cleveland a dominant late-inning presence on the mound for the
first time since Jose Mesa was the Indians closer in the 1990s.