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On Teixeira, the Braves, and a contract

Mark Teixeira talks about his contract situation:

Tex rolled into training camp Tuesday and said he's here to play ball and get ready for the 2008 season, not talk about his contract or whether he plans to test the free-agent waters next winter.

"If you're worrying about contracts, you're not going to take care of business on the field," he said. "Twenty-four other guys on this team don't care about my contract."

Actually, they do care.

Veterans Chipper Jones and John Smoltz have said how important it is to try to re-sign Teixeira, who hit .317 with 17 home runs and 56 RBIs in 54 games after being traded to Atlanta on July 31 last season.

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before the end of the season, before he hits the free-agent market?

"I'm always willing to listen," Teixeira said. "At the same time, I have much more important things to worry about. If I take care of things on the field, that [contract] will take care of itself."

Some believe agent Scott Boras could land Teixeira a six- or seven-year deal worth $25 million or more annually, considering the other contracts that have been handed out in recent years and Teixeira's age and all-around skills.

Boras is famous for producing a spiral-bound dossier crammed with statistical data for each free-agent client, and someone joked to Teixeira that Boras might have several books to support this client.

"He's got plenty of [contract negotiation] ammunition for me," said Teixeira, punctuated by his usual smile and good-natured laugh.

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He was asked if the contract issue could become a distraction.

"I'm not going to let it be a distraction for me and my team," said Teixeira, who is making $12.5 million this season. "If you want to talk about baseball, I'll talk all night.

"But if you want to talk about contracts, my agent is always willing to talk. And I'm sure Frank [Wren, Braves general manager] is always willing to talk."

When the response to a question about whether a player is interested in signing an extension is, "We're always willing to listen," that's not a good sign for the team.