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Indians take chance on Millwood

Kevin Millwood finalized a $7-million, one-year contract on Saturday with the Indians, who hope the right-hander's elbow is healthy and that he can stabilize a young starting rotation.

Millwood, 30, has three seasons with at least 17 wins and has pitched more than 200 innings four times, but spent last year battling elbow problems.

"I'm not real worried about it," Millwood said of the injury. "If I was at a point right now that I felt I wouldn't be able to pitch all year, I probably wouldn't have signed."

If healthy, Millwood would fit nicely into the No. 3 spot of the Indians' rotation, putting a proven veteran behind All-Stars C.C. Sabathia and Jake Westbrook, and ahead of Cliff Lee and Scott Elarton or Jason Davis.

"He's a guy who's capable of pitching a playoff game for us and pitching us into the playoffs," Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said during a conference call.

"This is a guy in three years of his career has pitched like a No. 1."

Millwood won 17 games in 1998, 18 in 1999 and 18 again in 2002 with Atlanta, where he learned to pitch on a staff that included Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz.

No Indians pitcher has won at least 17 games since Sabathia as a rookie in 2001, the last time Cleveland made the playoffs.

BELTRAN DEADLINE: Carlos Beltran waited until the final hours Saturday night before telling the Houston Astros whether he would re-sign. New York Mets officials also awaited an indication from the 27-year-old centerfielder. While he faced a midnight deadline to re-sign with Houston because he finished the season with the Astros and became a free agent, the deadline doesn't apply to any talks he might have with the other 29 major league teams.

Astros owner Drayton McLane spoke with Beltran's agent, Scott Boras, on Saturday morning. Beltran has been seeking a contract in excess of $100-million. After midnight, the Astros would not be able to re-sign Beltran until May 1.

"There's been no new developments," Astros spokesman Jimmy Stanton said during the afternoon. "There's nothing new to report. It'll be a long day."

Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said he couldn't discuss the situation, and with 5{ hours left before the deadline for the Astros, Boras said no decisions had been made.

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