CLEVELAND -- Kerry Wood thinks switching leagues will go as smoothly for him as his transition from starter to closer.
After agreeing to a $20.5 million, two-year contract with the Cleveland Indians, Wood toured chilly, snow-covered Progressive Field on Thursday for the first time and said he couldn't wait to take the mound.
"I'm excited to get going," the 31-year-old right-hander said. "Coming to Cleveland is a challenge. I enjoy challenges.
"It never crossed my mind about switching leagues when I entered free agency. What was important was coming to a solid organization. All I heard was great things about the fans, the front office and everything top to bottom."
A year ago, Wood embraced another move -- into the closer's role with the Chicago Cubs. He responded with 34 saves and made the NL All-Star team.
"That move was great for me," Wood said. "The more I worked, the better I felt. I have no desire to ever start again. I'd like to keep closing as long as I can."
Wood's career as a record-setting starter was sidetracked by 11 trips to the disabled list in his first nine seasons. At one point, he spent 22 months rehabilitating from shoulder surgery that was expected to keep him sidelined four months.
"I was ready to hang it up a few times, but my wife kept me going," Wood said. "She went through a lot of pain, too. Not in her shoulder, but from dealing with me. She believed in me."
Indians manager Eric Wedge has full confidence that Wood will prop up the team's weakest link from a disappointing season. Cleveland came within one win of the 2007 World Series before slipping to 81-81 this year.
"A closer was our No. 1 priority," Wedge said. "Signing Kerry is exciting. It's more than just saves. Everyone else in the bullpen feeds off the closer. It has a huge effect on all the position players, too."
Wood said he relishes working with the game on the line.
"To have the bases loaded and none out is not the greatest situation to be in," Wood said. "I look at it as, hey, I'm out here. There were times when I wasn't sure I'd pitch again. Now that's pressure."
As a rookie starter in 1998, Wood tied a major league record with 20 strikeouts in a game. He knows Cleveland fans will expect a lot and said that's no different from his time in Chicago. While the Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908, Cleveland's 60-year drought has been just as frustrating to Indians fans.
"Fans want to win," Wood said. "So do I and I'll try my best to meet the challenge."