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Yanks send RHP Hawkins to Astros for minor leaguer

HOUSTON -- The busy New York Yankees traded reliever LaTroy Hawkins to the Houston Astros on Wednesday for minor league
infielder Matt Cusick.

Hawkins was 1-1 with a 5.71 ERA in 33 appearances this season
for the Yankees, who designated him for assignment Saturday after
acquiring outfielder Xavier Nady and reliever Damaso Marte in a
trade with Pittsburgh.

"I was sitting at home doing nothing and all of a sudden, a
team wants me," Hawkins said on a conference call. "I'm pretty
excited about that."

The Yankees will eat the remainder of Hawkins' $3.75 million one-year contract, or about $1.1 million, ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney reports.

"LaTroy gives us another experienced, quality arm for our
bullpen," Houston general manager Ed Wade said. "We tried to sign
him during the offseason and lost out to the Yankees, but we are
happy to have him here for the remainder of the season. He gives
[manager] Cecil Cooper one more weapon to call upon late in the
game."

It was the second trade of the day for the Yankees, who also
acquired star catcher Ivan Rodriguez from Detroit for reliever Kyle Farnsworth.

The 22-year-old Cusick was hitting .285 with nine home runs and
38 RBIs in 94 games for Class-A Lexington. The Astros selected him
in the 10th round of the 2007 draft.

Wade said Hawkins will report to the team Friday, when the
Astros open a three-game series against the New York Mets. Houston
will be his sixth team in 14 major league seasons.

Hawkins turned down the Astros in the offseason because he
wanted to fulfill a lifelong dream.

"It was one of those things where, if I ever got the chance to
play for the Yankees, I certainly didn't want to pass up on that
opportunity," he said. "No disrespect to the Astros or anything
like that, but it was one of those things that I wanted to do at
one point in my career and the opportunity presented itself."

Wade said he's been looking for a reliever to ease the workload
on pitchers such as Doug Brocail and Chris Sampson in the bullpen.
The 41-year-old Brocail leads the team with 51 appearances. Sampson
has made 21 relief appearances and 11 starts.

"We ended up getting a deal done for an experienced relief
pitcher who we think can go back on the back end and help Brocail
and Sampson and the other guys who we've been using late and help
us get the job done," Wade said.

The Astros were 9½ games behind Milwaukee in the NL wild-card
race entering Wednesday night's game against Cincinnati.

Wade said his discussions with the Yankees about Hawkins
occurred within the last 24 hours. The right-hander lives near
Dallas but has been working out at Taylor University in Indiana
since the Yankees cut him.

"I told myself that I was going to stay in shape," Hawkins
said. "If I got traded, I got traded - or if I had to wait the
full 10 days and get released and then sign with another team, that
was the way I was going to go. I just wanted the chance to pitch
again this year."

Hawkins said he would fly to Dallas on Thursday morning and
drive to Houston later in the day.

"He seemed very pleased with the opportunity he's going to get
here," Wade said.

Hawkins is 57-77 with 75 saves and a 4.72 ERA in his big league
career. He also pitched for Minnesota (1995-2003), the Chicago Cubs
(2004-05), Baltimore (2006) and Colorado (2007).

Wade said he wanted to bolster his rotation and bullpen before
the trade deadline. The Astros acquired starting pitcher Randy Wolf
from San Diego last week and, after landing Hawkins, Wade said he's
probably done dealing before the deadline.

"There is always the possibility that something else will
happen," he said. "But realistically, this was the thing that's
been teed up for a while here. We'll see what happens in the next
couple of hours, but there is really nothing hot or active at this
point."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.