(AP)Saying he only would return for a 17th season if he could pitch close to home, right-hander Kevin Millwood called it a career Friday night after a successful major league ride. His highlights include two no-hitters — one done on his own with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2003 and the other as part of a six-man effort with the Seattle Mariners this past season.
Millwood, who turned 38 years old in December, told the Shelby (N.C.) Star that he was "just ready to retire" after agent Scott Boras couldn't hook up a deal with the Atlanta Braves or Tampa Bay Rays, teams that play near his home in Gainesville, Ga.:
“I feel like I can still throw it well and going out on a high note is a big deal,” Millwood said. “I just felt it was time to be closer to home and to be around the kids more often.”
Millwood happened to be in North Carolina to watch two of his nephews play in basketball games for their respective middle school and high school teams in Bessemer, the same ones Millwood played for before getting picked by the Braves in the 11th round of the 1993 draft. An 11th rounder, playing 16 seasons — that's quite accomplished. The Star took note that Millwood's major league career was a record for Gaston County, edging Whitey Lockman by a year.
When he came up with the Braves and had an awesome second full season — and considering Atlanta's reputation for developing starters — it was easy to envision Millwood making several All-Star teams. That didn't happen, but he had some dominating moments. The no-hitter for the Phillies in '03 was most notable:
Millwood made 443 career starts for seven clubs, finishing with a 4.11 ERA (+106) and 2,083 strikeouts. His best season came with the Atlanta Braves in 1999, when he made the NL All-Star team, finished with a 2.68 ERA (second in the NL) and had 205 strikeouts in 33 starts. He made an unmemorable start in the '99 World Series against the New York Yankees and he led the ERA in 2005 with the Cleveland Indians. Millwood also pitched for the Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles and Colorado Rockies.
With the Mariners in 2012, he was six innings into another no-no against the Dodgers when he left the game with a groin injury. The Mariners completed the no-no, though.
“It was a cool experience,” said Millwood, who watched his teammates get the final nine outs from the training room. “But it was bittersweet to not be able to finish it out."
Millwood's career earnings were just short of $90 million, so he probably doesn't need to keep pitching for the money, but you have to wonder if an agreeable team might call him in July and see what's up.
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