Indians agree with Nixon for one year, $3 million

Trot Nixon Nixon

CLEVELAND -- After agreeing to sign with Cleveland,
Trot Nixon turned an important task over to his 5-year-old son.

"I let Chase pick the number," Nixon recalled. "He first
picked 32, and I was like, why?"

"Because you're 32 years old," Chase said.

"Well, in two months, I'm going to be 33," his father replied.

With that, Nixon decided to wear No. 33 with the Indians, who
agreed Friday to a $3 million, one-year contract with the
oft-injured outfielder.

Nixon wore No. 7 with the Red Sox, the team he had spent his
entire major league career with. No. 33 is just fine with him.

"That was my high school baseball number," he said.

Nixon, who will be joined in Cleveland by former Red Sox closer
Keith Foulke, batted .268 with eight homers and 52 RBIs in 114
games last season.

He was sidelined from July 31 to Sept. 4 because of a strained
right biceps, which he first hurt in June, and a staph infection.
Nixon has gone on the DL in each of the last three seasons,
including two stints in 2004, and has not had 500 at-bats since

"Obviously, I don't want go out and play hurt and eventually
hurt the team," he said. "No. 1 it's going to effect the team.
No. 2, it's just going to put me more in a hole, meaning having to
go on the DL."

He remembered back to when he hurt his back in his first year of
professional baseball.

"I don't think I regained my swing for like three years because
I was scared," he said.

Cleveland general manager Mark Shapiro said the Indians wanted
Nixon for his experience and the club did its medical due diligence
on him.

"We felt comfortable that with the burden we're looking to put
on him, we felt comfortable with his health," Shapiro said.

During 11 seasons with the Red Sox, Nixon hit .278 with 133
homers and 523 RBIs in 982 games. In 2001, he was selected the
club's MVP after batting .306 with 28 homers and 86 RBIs in 134

Nixon will likely bat second and platoon in right field with
Casey Blake, who also will see time at first. Shin-Soo Choo had
been set to platoon with Blake. Cleveland had talked with Nixon's
agent last fall, then backed off after agreeing to an $11.5
million, three-year deal with David Dellucci.

Ryan Garko could wind up seeing more time at first. With Nixon
in the lineup, Dellucci could be dropped to fifth or sixth against

"It gives us a tremendous amount of depth that should protect
us against injury and poor performance," Shapiro said.

Nixon can earn $2 million in performance bonuses: $250,000 each
for 200 plate appearances and every additional 50 plate appearances
through 550.

To make room on their roster, the Indians designated
right-hander Jeremy Guthrie for assignment. Guthrie, signed to a $4
million, four-year contract after Cleveland selected him with the
22nd pick of the 2002 amateur draft, pitched only 19 1/3 innings
over nine games for the Indians last season and had a 6.98 ERA. He
was out of options.

"It might have been a slight miscalculation on us on how
advanced he was when we drafted him," Shapiro said. "He obviously
had the stuff. He has the intelligence and the character. I think
we underestimated maybe the development time necessary. ... I think
we still feel like this guy has the ability and will be a solid
major league pitcher at some point."