Millwood Still Focusing Elsewhere

When Ed Wade announced the trade for Billy Wagner, he noted that free agent starting pitchers may want to take note of the fact that the Phillies had just acquired one of the best closers in the game. The quote may have been a little message to Kevin Millwood that a return to Philadelphia might be of a lot more interest now than it was in the past. The problem is that Millwood and the Phillies seem so far apart that Millwood might not have even gotten the message.

Kevin Millwood has said all along that he hadn't ruled out returning to the Phillies next season.

The Phillies have said all along they'd love to have Millwood back.

It doesn't appear that either side is telling the whole truth and nothing but.

That became clear by the time Millwood exercised his right to file for free agency.

General manager Ed Wade had told agent Scott Boras that it was up to him to call if Millwood was interested in negotiating while the Phillies still held his exclusive rights. Boras never picked up the phone.

The most generous interpretation of this is that Millwood simply wants to see what his market value is. But the strong perception remains that he didn't care for the atmosphere around the team by the end of the season.

And the Phillies, for their part, seemed disenchanted with the pitcher they traded for and immediately tabbed their number one starter. Through May 23 he was 7-1 with a 2.84 earned run average, including a no-hitter. From that point to the end of the season he was 7-11.

Wade seemed to indicate that he is looking beyond Millwood when asked about the 2004 rotation.

"We're going to have to address that in some fashion," he said. "The better the guy, the better off we are. Whether it's a guy at the top end of the marketplace or somebody in the middle, we frankly think that with the progress (Randy) Wolf and (Brett) Myers and (Vicente) Padilla have made that we have a pretty good framework to work with.

"It would be great to add a guy at the top of the rotation. But if we can add a guy in the middle, I still think we'll be OK."

Also filing for free agency: RHPs Turk Wendell and Terry Adams, LHP Dan Plesac and C Todd Pratt.

The Phillies have already had preliminary negotiations with the 41-year-old Plesac, who has decided not to retire. They are also interested in retaining Adams and Pratt but are unlikely to bring back Wendell.

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