Mills, feeling left out of talks, seems on way out 'No one has said anything to me' about deal, he says

Sidelight

August 27, 1998|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

CHICAGO -- The sluggish pace of negotiations between the Orioles' front office and its pending free agents may have claimed its first victim. Reliever Alan Mills no longer believes he will return next season to the team's bullpen.

Insisting his preference is to remain with the club, Mills says he is reluctantly interpreting the absence of meaningful discussions as a rejection by the team. Assistant general manager Kevin Malone had spoken briefly with Mills' agent, Adam Katz, recently but no formal offer has been made. A framework for negotiations hasn't even been discussed, Mills said.

"It doesn't look like it's happening here," he said yesterday. "We're almost in September and no one has said anything to me. You have to draw your own conclusions."

Mills, whose 57 appearances trail only Armando Benitez's 60 on the Orioles' staff, leads the bullpen in innings pitched (64) while compiling a 1-3 record and 3.80 ERA. He has allowed only five of 32 inherited runners to score and has held the lead in 20 of 22 opportunities. Opponents are batting only .198 against him, a figure bettered only by Benitez.

Mills has sat by quietly while the club has extended reliever Jesse Orosco and backup infielder Jeff Reboulet while intensifying discussions with outfielders Eric Davis and B. J. Surhoff.

The Orioles also have offered first baseman Rafael Palmeiro a three-year, $21 million contract and are formulating an offer for second baseman Roberto Alomar.

"If nothing has happened at this point, there really isn't reason to expect anything taking place between now and the end of the season," Mills said. "You pretty much resign yourself to filing [for free agency]. I anticipate being somewhere else next season."

Mills, who will draw a $850,000 base salary in addition to $200,000 in appearance incentives, insists, "It's not really a money issue. I'm looking for a ring. A lot of guys play this game without that experience. You get up for the regular season, but it's nothing compared to the playoffs."

Pub Date: 8/27/98

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