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Gross talks hitting with Millwood
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04/27/2003 10:35 PM ET 
Gross talks hitting with Millwood
Hitting coach was one of few who would talk to pitcher
tickets for any Major League Baseball game
Kevin Millwood tries to keep his cool during Sunday's no-hitter. (AP)
PHILADELPHIA -- So how was he? Nervous? Anxious? Worried? Confident?

No change.

"He was exactly the same today as with any other start," said hitting coach Greg Gross. "He's about as even keeled as you can get and he wasn't any different today."

Gross knows this because Millwood cornered him in the dugout and discussed the pitcher's hitting prowess -- and it wasn't by choice.

While teammates stayed clear of Millwood, as is customary when they sense greatness, the pitcher searched for a friend. He found one in Gross.

"About the fifth, I started to see more and more guys not want to come close to me," said Millwood. "So I sat next to Grossie and kept trying to talk with him. I said stuff to him just so he'd talk to me."

"I guess I just happened to pick the spot on the bench where he normally sits," said Gross. "He usually sits close to me or next to me. If I'm by him when he's pitching, he always talks about hitting. He wants to work on it because he thinks he's better than what he's shown."

So they discussed how Millwood popped up a fastball during his first at-bat, then looked for a slider and couldn't hit it. So did it help?

"I don't know," said Gross. "We have early hitting tomorrow, so we'll work on it."

Not superstitious: Backup catcher Todd Pratt, a non-believer in superstitions, also kept the conversation going with Millwood.

"The guy needed someone to talk to," said Pratt. "I was trying to make the same conversation as I would be if he had given up 10 hits. "One time I said 'Go hit a home run, no one else is hitting.'"

Millwood went 0-for-3.

Also not superstitious was broadcaster Harry Kalas, who has called six no-hitters.

"Unlike a lot of broadcasters, I start calling it in the seventh," he said. "A lot of people feel it's a jinx if you mention it. I feel like late-listeners need to know. I started the countdown from the seventh inning on. I was beside myself."

Ready Dan?: Dan Plesac was ready and he made sure bullpen coach Ramon Henderson knew.

"I told him to call to the dugout and tell [Phillies manager] Larry Bowa that I was ready to pitch the ninth inning," said Plesac, with a laugh. "I could have gotten the job done."

While the other relievers didn't want to move during the final outs, Plesac moved around incessantly. He went from the wooden perch -- where the relievers sit and watch the game -- to the place where they warm up.

He also claims he was helping Kevin Millwood by putting the whammy on all opposing hitters.

"I had that THANG going on every pitch," he said, showing off how he clasped his hands together. "That did the trick."

Braves world: The Phillies weren't the only ones rooting hard for Millwood.

"Maybe if it was Sept. 20 and we were in a pennant race it would be different," said Braves second baseman Marcus Giles. "But it's April. So it's a different story."

"That was sensational," said manager Bobby Cox. "You don't get to see those too often."

"It was fun to watch," said Greg Maddux. "I was probably more nervous than he was. He's a good guy. It's great to see good things happen to good people."

Wait a second? The Braves pulling for the Phillies? Granted, this time it may be understandable, but what gives?

"There's no divided loyalty," said pitching coach Leo Mazzone. "Now we hope Philly loses four in a row."

Also not surprised was Giants left-hander Damian Moss, who was a teammate of Millwood's with the Braves.

"I saw him pitch like that all the time in Atlanta," said Moss. "It doesn't surprise me at all. He was just the third guy there. He's the man, here. He should be."

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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