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Originally published Saturday, February 7, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Baseball | Indians GM says sales are in flux

As spring training approaches, Cleveland Indians general manager Mark Shapiro is looking at how fast tickets are selling. "Our sales right now...

CLEVELAND — As spring training approaches, Cleveland Indians general manager Mark Shapiro is looking at how fast tickets are selling.

"Our sales right now are very much in flux," Shapiro said Friday. "We are hopeful they will pick up as we get closer to spring training and the reality of a new baseball season is upon us. But there is a sense of caution and an understanding of what this could mean if it continues."

Cleveland signed closer Kerry Wood to a $20.5 million, two-year deal. Shapiro said he does not regret spending that money in December rather than waiting to see whether prices would go down.

"We were fortunate to be one of the teams that had some flexibility this offseason," Shapiro said. "We discussed waiting, but at the time we made the deal in mid-December we thought it was the best option for improving our team."

Shapiro said that for the most part, agents and available players have come to the realization that clubs cannot spend as freely as they did even a few months ago. He rejects any accusation that collusion is going on.

Notes

• Washington pitcher Shawn Hill became the first player in the major leagues to go to a salary-arbitration hearing this year, asking a panel to award him $775,000 rather than the team's $500,000 offer. Arbitrators were expected to issue a decision during the weekend. Hill was 1-5 with a 5.83 ERA in 12 starts last year.

• Pitcher Randy Wolf has agreed to terms with the Los Angeles Dodgers, getting a one-year contract worth $5 million. A 32-year-old left-hander, Wolf was a combined 12-12 with a 4.30 ERA last year with San Diego and Houston.

• Relief pitcher Tom Gordon agreed to a $500,000, one-year contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The 41-year-old right-hander, a member of last season's World Series-champion Philadelphia Phillies, can make an additional $2.5 million in bonuses based on time on the active roster. Gordon was 5-4 with two saves and a 5.16 ERA last year.

• Reliever Pedro Feliciano and the New York Mets agreed to a one-year contract worth $1,612,500 and avoided salary arbitration. The 32-year-old left-hander was 3-4 with a 4.05 ERA and two saves in 86 relief appearances last season.

• Former All-Star third baseman Kevin Seitzer is returning to the Kansas City Royals as their hitting coach. Seitzer replaces Mike Barnett, who was fired after last season.

• Boston made official what had been agreed to a week earlier: Jason Varitek, its catcher and captain, is returning for a 13th season. The contract includes a $5 million salary this year, and for 2010 a player option of $3 million and a team option of $5 million.

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Jim Pohlad envisions his family owning the Minnesota Twins for the next 20 years and beyond. Pohlad talked to reporters at length for the first time since his father, Carl, died last month.

Jim Pohlad says he discussed the ownership with his brothers, Bill and Bob, in the wake of their father's death, and they reached a consensus that they want to keep the team in the family. Carl Pohlad bought the team in 1984.

• Left-hander Ken Takahashi finalized a minor-league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays and was invited to major-league spring-training camp. The 39-year-old has spent his entire 14-year career in Japan.

• Right-handed starter Jason Jennings and Texas Rangers agreed to a minor-league contract that could lead to a major-league deal potentially worth up to $2.25 million.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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