Kerry Wood will resume closing for the Indians once healthy

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Indians manager Manny Acta made it clear yesterday that Kerry Wood will immediately reclaim ninth-inning when he returns from the disabled list, saying: “Whenever Kerry’s ready, he’ll close.”
Wood has been sidelined since July 12 with a blister on his right index finger and wasn’t any good before landing on the shelf, going 1-4 with a 6.30 ERA and three blown saves in 11 chances.
Presumably the Indians are still holding out some hope of trading Wood for minimal value (or monetary savings) before the July 31 deadline, although given his contract there’s little doubt that he’d clear waivers after July 31 and could then be moved any time until August 31.
Wood is in the second season of a two-year, $20.5 million deal and the contract also includes a sure-to-be-declined $11 million team option for 2011.

Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.

Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.

As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.