Boras, Wade won't talk during All-Star break

Phillies pitcher Kevin Millwood has had second thoughts about holding a round of contract negotiations with the Phillies during the All-Star break.

Originally Published: June 30, 2003
By Jayson Stark | ESPN.com

Phillies pitcher Kevin Millwood has had second thoughts about holding a round of contract negotiations with the Phillies during the All-Star break.

Kevin Millwood
Starting pitcher
Philadelphia Phillies
Profile
2003 SEASON STATISTICS
IP H W-L BB SO ERA
111.2 108 9-6 32 93 4.03

Millwood's agent, Scott Boras, and Phillies general manager Ed Wade both confirmed Monday to ESPN.com that the two sides don't plan to talk during the break because, according to Boras, "we want to keep Kevin focused."

Wade said that Millwood originally had "indicated a willingness to get together," and Wade had even looked into calling off his scheduled trip to the All Star Game. But Wade said he then got a phone message from Boras saying that Millwood wanted to stay away from any contract distractions "at this point." And Millwood reiterated that sentiment personally when the two talked a few days ago in Atlanta.

But Wade also said he didn't consider this development to be "a cancellation or a postponement of anything." He said there had only been some informal "discussion" with Millwood about negotiating during the break, but nothing had ever been firmly scheduled.

The Phillies' response, Wade said, was to let Millwood know that "the organization is ready, willing and, hopefully, able to move forward that at any point Kevin feels he's ready. And I told him that when he is ready, to let me know."

Now, however, it appears all but certain that those conversations won't take place until after the season, most likely in the period between the end of the season and the date in November when Millwood officially becomes a free agent and is eligible to negotiate with other teams.

Millwood said Monday that he didn't know if the recent contract talk was the reason for his recent struggles. He just knows he wants to start thinking about catcher's signs instead of dollar signs.

"I've said all year long, from Day 1, that I don't want to put that distraction in the mix," Millwood said before Monday's game with the Cubs. "It's just me ... For me personally, it's become a distraction. And I don't want that to happen."

Millwood tried his best to discourage any assumptions that this decision meant he wasn't happy in Philadelphia.

"That has nothing to do with this at all," he said. "I've been treated great here. It goes back to the whole thing of becoming a distraction. It's not based on anything anybody else has done or said. It's just how I feel.

"I feel like, when I'm at the ballpark, if I'm pitching or not, I should be getting prepared for the next game, and that's all I should be thinking about. And I've been spending half my time thinking about what's going to happen or what am I going to say if they offer me this or that."

Wade said the Phillies were taking Millwood's decision on its face and not reading any more into it than what has been expressed.

"Kevin gave no indication that he wasn't happy," the GM said. "He just doesn't think he needs one more thing to deal with at this point."

In his first year as a Phillie and his first season as his team's true No. 1 starter, Millwood is tied for fifth in the National League in wins (nine), is tied for seventh in strikeouts (93), is eighth in innings pitched (111 2/3) and has pitched the only complete-game no-hitter in baseball.

So Boras left no doubts that, at age 28, Millwood expects to be "the most coveted pitcher in the upcoming free-agent market."

Free agents, Boras philosophized, are "an umbrella. Some players are the umbrella. And the majority of players fall under the shade. Kevin Millwood is an umbrella."

Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Jayson Stark | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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