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Wednesday, December 6, 2006
Indians add closer Borowski, outfielder Dellucci

Associated Press

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Indians love Joe Borowski -- for one year.

After the Philadelphia Phillies backed away from a two-year contract because of concerns over his pitching shoulder, Cleveland finalized a $4.25 million, one-year deal Wednesday with the right-handed reliever.

Relief Pitcher
Cleveland Indians

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"This is a market that's full of risks," Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said. "With some guys a risk has been in the contract, either through salary or years. Sometimes a risk is medical. But I think this is an offseason where you pick where the risk is."

Cleveland also completed an $11.5 million, three-year agreement with free-agent outfielder David Dellucci, who passed his physical in Cleveland on Tuesday. And reliever Eric Gagne, who missed much of last season because of injuries, might be attracting the Indians' attention.

"Obviously, we have a higher threshold for risk on a shorter deal and with lower dollars," Shapiro said. "There's a direct correlation there."

Borowski had 36 saves in 43 chances last season for the Florida Marlins. After he reached a preliminary agreement with the Phillies, Philadelphia backed off that deal when it didn't like the results of medical tests performed on his right shoulder.

"I'm as healthy as can be," Borowski said. "As far as physically able, there's no problems."

When the Phillies then tried to sign Borowski to a one-year contract, the 35-year-old turned his attention to the Indians. Cleveland's doctors examined him Tuesday.

"What Joe brings to the table and what that can mean to this team was worth the risk," Shapiro said. "Right now he is a closing alternative for us for sure, and certainly will pitch meaningful innings late in the game."

Cleveland, which traded Bob Wickman before the July 31 deadline last season, had a major league-low 23 saves in 2006. Borowski will be the favorite going into training camp to be Cleveland's next closer. Shapiro has also had talks with agents for Keith Foulke and Octavio Dotel.

Last week, the Indians signed veterans Roberto Hernandez and Aaron Fultz, who are expected to fill set-up roles.

Borowski has also pitched for Baltimore, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs. He is 17-26 with a 3.87 ERA and 80 career saves. Since 2003, he is 78-for-95 in save opportunities.

He gets $4 million next year, and the Indians have a $4 million option for 2008 with a $250,000 buyout. Borowski can earn $1.5 million in performance bonuses bases on games finished: $200,000 each for 40, 45 and 50, $400,000 for 55 and $500,000 for 60.

In Philadelphia, he would have been a setup man.

"I think it worked out for the best," he said.

The 33-year-old Dellucci, who chose Cleveland over Cincinnati, is expected to platoon in left field. A left-handed hitter, he batted .292 with 13 homers and 39 RBIs in 132 games for Philadelphia, which acquired him before opening day from Texas.

"I look to be expecting all righties and I look to get some considerable at-bats against left-handed pitching," he said. "I had the chance with the Rangers for two years to get consistent play, especially in 2005, which is my best year as far as power numbers and on-base percentage. From playing on a consistent basis, I think it's only going to get better. A player obviously is more comfortable when he knows he's going to be in the lineup."