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Notes: C.C. extension talks on hold

Notes: C.C. extension talks on hold

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- The Indians broke out of Florida camp on Friday with the contractual future of three core players, as well as that of their manager, in limbo.

General manager Mark Shapiro told reporters earlier in the day that contract extension negotiations with the agent for ace left-hander C.C. Sabathia, who will be eligible for free agency after the 2008 season, have ceased and will not resume until after the '07 season.

Talks with the agents representing right-hander Jake Westbrook, eligible after '07, and designated hitter Travis Hafner, eligible after '08, are continuing. But Shapiro does not expect them to last deep into the upcoming season.

"With the time frame of us leaving here, we weren't able to get a resolution either way," Shapiro said. "I would not characterize that as being optimistic or pessimistic. It just simply is what it is. We'll continue to talk to them. We will update you when we have conclusion either way."

Shapiro will not address manager Eric Wedge's contract situation until after the season. The Indians hold a two-year contract option on Wedge for '08 and '09. His job performance in trying to guide the Indians to a bounce-back season after a 78-84 finish in '06 will go a long way toward determining whether that option is exercised.

"What I want to avoid is having this conversation after having a good week or a bad week," Shapiro said. "It's my expectation Eric Wedge will be the manager for a long time, but I'm not going to address his current contract situation until after the season, regardless of what happens during the year."

Shapiro emphasized that the communication with Sabathia was positive. But with his free agency two seasons away, the 26-year-old Sabathia is not in a hurry to sign any dotted lines.

"He's probably the most problematic of the three [players] to determine the right values going forward," Shapiro said. "He's just so unique because of the age he's going to be heading into free agency and how his performance is trending. We did exchange some concepts and numbers. What was consistent throughout the process was C.C.'s desire to remain here, and his appreciation of the organization and his teammates."

Having just signed a five-year contract extension that will keep him at the helm of the Tribe front office through 2012, Shapiro is secure. He said he might have an update on the status of his staff members before the end of the season.

Assistant GM Chris Antonetti, farm director Ross Atkins, special assistant to the GM Neal Huntington, director of baseball operations Mike Chernoff and director of player personnel Steve Lubratich are all currently under contract through the '07 season.

Assessing camp: Shapiro will leave Florida feeling quite a bit like he did when he arrived. He's comfortable with the Indians' depth of talent overall and nervous about the bullpen.

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"More so because of what we experienced last year [in the 'pen]," he said, "than anything we've seen this spring."

Shapiro has seen newly signed reliever Keith Foulke retire and third starter Cliff Lee and reliever Matt Miller suffer injuries that will place them on the disabled list. But he still qualifies this as a "good camp."

"The positives certainly outweigh the negatives, especially with the announcement that C.C. will be able to make his Opening Day start," he said. "I'll maintain the anxieties that are a hangover from last season until we have our first save. But I really feel our depth is strong, and we're better in a lot of places we need to be better. Now it's time to play and find out where our limitations really lie and what areas we have to address."

Miller to Cleveland: Miller was shocked to find what he thought was a mild cramp in his arm is actually a muscle strain that will cost him at least the first three weeks of the season.

"With my elbow problem [in 2006], it was something I could feel coming for three or four months," he said. "With this, it took about 10 seconds. Hopefully, it will get out of there like normal muscle strains."

Miller, who had been a lock to make the Tribe's Opening Day bullpen, was set to head to Cleveland on Friday night. He'll rehab the injury at Jacobs Field.

Tribe tidbits: Shortstop Jhonny Peralta was beaned in the head by a Victor Zambrano fastball in the second inning of the Tribe's 6-2 loss to the Blue Jays on Friday and was immediately taken out. Peralta checked out fine in the clubhouse, however. ... First base prospect Mike Aubrey is still rehabbing a hamstring strain. Atkins said that Aubrey, who has played in just 42 games over the last two years because of knee and back problems, could be ready to start the season in Double-A Akron. "It's amazing how positive he is and how well he handles these setbacks," Atkins said. ... Left-handed reliever Tony Sipp, who will open at Triple-A Buffalo, is currently shut down with what is being called a "mild sprain" in an elbow ligament. "We're still working through how long he'll be shut down for," Atkins said.

On deck: The Indians will put on their blue suede spikes for a little pit stop in Memphis on Saturday. They'll be taking on the Cardinals in the inaugural Civil Rights Game, set to be broadcast on ESPN at 5:30 p.m. ET. Left-hander Jeremy Sowers will oppose right-hander Adam Wainwright. It will be the Tribe's final exhibition tuneup before embarking upon the 2007 season on Monday in Chicago.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["spring_training" ] }
{"content":["spring_training" ] }