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07/30/08 10:22 PM ET

Astros acquire Hawkins from Yanks

Club exchanges prospect Cusick to bring righty aboard

HOUSTON -- General manager Ed Wade has been scouring the trade market for an experienced reliever to help the back end of the bullpen, and on Wednesday, he landed one.

Wade acquired right-handed reliever LaTroy Hawkins from the Yankees in exchange for Minor League infielder Matt Cusick. The Astros made the announcement minutes before the start of their game with the Reds on Wednesday night.

"He's always had good stuff," Wade said of Hawkins. "He's pitched in critical games, in latter stages of games, so it's a role with which he's familiar. His overall numbers don't look all that great right now, but our reports on him over the last month or so, he's gone back and thrown more of his four-seam fastball and his velocity has been good."

Hawkins, 35, was 1-1 with a 5.71 ERA over 33 relief appearances for the Yankees this year. He recorded a 7.47 ERA over 13 appearances in April and slightly improved each month -- a 5.40 ERA over seven games in May, 4.35 over seven games in June and 4.05 over six appearances in July.

Hawkins was designated for assignment last Saturday, the same day the Yankees acquired outfielder Xavier Nady and pitcher Damaso Marte from the Pirates.

The Yankees had 10 days to trade, release or reassign Hawkins to the Minor Leagues, so needless to say, landing with another big league team four days after being dropped by the Yankees was a relief for the veteran righty.

"Those first few days, I was like, 'Wow,'" Hawkins said via conference call on Wednesday night. "You see other people go through it and you kind of figure, 'Wow, how do they get through it?' I told myself I was going to stay in shape and if I get traded, I get traded, and if I have to wait the full 10 days and then get released, and then sign with another team, that's the way I was going to go. I just wanted the chance to pitch again this year."

Upon leaving the Yankees, Hawkins traveled with one of his agents, Matt Kinzer, to Upland, Ind., where he worked out at Taylor University. Kinzer's son, Taylor, plays baseball there.

"I wanted to try to stay in shape, so I went somewhere where I knew I would definitely stay in shape," Hawkins said.

Hawkins, who lives year-round in Frisco, Texas, is a veteran of 14 career big league seasons with the Twins, Cubs, Orioles, Rockies and Yankees. He has a career record of 57-77 with 75 saves and a 4.72 ERA.

Wade tried to sign Hawkins during the offseason but lost out to the Yankees, who signed Hawkins to a one-year deal worth $3.75 million. Hawkins has approximately $1 million remaining on the contract, and according to Wade, the Yankees will absorb most of it.

Hawkins, who will be in uniform for Friday's opener with the Mets, said he gave strong consideration to the Astros over the winter but ultimately was lured by the chance to play for the storied Yankees.

"It was one of those things where if I had a chance to play for the Yankees, I certainly didn't want to pass up that opportunity," Hawkins 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 time in my career and the opportunity presented itself."

Cusick, 22, hit .285 (100-for-351) with nine home runs and 38 RBIs over 94 games for Class A Lexington of the South Atlantic League this year. Drafted in the 10th round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, the left-handed hitter attended the University of Southern California and hit .306 with three home runs and 35 RBIs for short-season A Tri-City last season.

"We like Matt," Wade said. "He's swinging the bat very well at Lexington, and he's had a good season down there. I had a chance to see him play a handful of games early in the season. We consider him a prospect, and obviously, the Yankees consider him a prospect also. But if you have a chance to add an experienced guy like Hawkins, and the price of doing business is a lower level bat, then it makes sense to go ahead and do something."

Wade hasn't ruled out the possibility of making another move before Thursday's 3 p.m. CT Trade Deadline, but he's satisfied that he already filled needs both in the starting rotation and the bullpen.

"We sort of went into this period of time looking to bolster our starting rotation, and get some more depth in the back end of the bullpen, and we think with Randy Wolf and LaTroy Hawkins, we've done those things," Wade said. "We have several hours left before the Trading Deadline. There's always a possibility that something else will happen, but realistically, this was the thing that's been teed up for a while here. We were waiting to see if it was going to get done or not.

"We'll see what happens in the next couple of hours, but there's nothing hot or active at this point."

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