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Published: Thursday, 4/28/2005

Sabathia gets contract extension

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

CLEVELAND - When the Cleveland Indians looked around for building blocks to secure their future, they found a substantial one right in their own locker room. The Tribe yesterday signed left-handed pitcher C.C. Sabathia to an extension of his contract that will keep him with the club through the 2008 season.

"I felt like this team is going in the right direction," Sabathia said as his wife, mother and young son joined him at Jacobs Field yesterday before the Tribe faced Detroit. "I'm just so comfortable here, and your comfort level is so important. I also think the guys in the clubhouse expected this from me, and they played a big role in this decision."

Sabathia was in the final year of his contract with Cleveland, and the club had a $7 million option on him for next season. The new deal calls for the 6-foot-7, 300-pounder to receive $8.75 million in 2007, and $9 million in 2008.

"This shows our belief in the potential he has, and his belief in fulfilling that potential," Cleveland general manager Mark Shapiro said. "C.C. is a special talent and a special person and we are fortunate to have someone with his ability and character leading our organization into what we hope is the next championship era."

Sabathia, who joined the Tribe as a 20-year-old rookie in 2001, has a 55-35 record and a 4.07 ERA with the team. His 17-5 record in 2001 was the best by a Cleveland rookie in more than half a century.

Sabathia, who is 1-0 this season with a 1.42 ERA, is a two-time American League All-Star who was Cleveland's first pick in the 1998 draft. He has started 128 games for the Tribe, and Sabathia and Bob Feller are the only Indians to make 100 career starts prior to age 24.

The Tribe now has Sabathia, catcher Victor Martinez and designated hitter Travis Hafner under long-term contracts. Martinez signed a five-year, $15 million deal, while Hafner got a three-year, $7 million contract. Shapiro said he knew Sabathia could command more on the open market than the Indians could afford.

"I told him I know he's leaving money on the table," Shapiro said, "and we talked about being partners in this and sharing the risk. His commitment to this team is a major part of it."

TIGERS TIDBITS: Detroit has won three in a row and six of its last nine games. ... The Tigers are 2-2 against the Tribe, but have outscored the Indians 30-15. ... Detroit had a season-high six doubles last night. ... Detroit outfielder Nook Logan extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a double.

SHUEY RETIRES: Former Tribe reliever Paul Shuey, who played the bulk of his career in Cleveland (1994-2002), announced his retirement yesterday. The 34-year-old, who was a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers when he missed last season with injuries, made an appearance for the Tribe's Double-A Akron affiliate on Monday as he attempted a comeback. Shuey's record was 45-27 in 451 career outings.

Contact Matt Markey at:

mmarkey@theblade.com

or 419-724-6510.



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