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Friendship takes precedence for Hall

Friendship takes precedence for Hall

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LAS VEGAS -- Brewers infielder Bill Hall and free-agent superstar CC Sabathia went on a multi-day, multi-state sports odyssey last week, but Hall resisted the urge to sell Sabathia on returning to Milwaukee.

"We didn't talk about it," Hall said of Sabathia's looming decision. "That wasn't the nature of the trip. We were trying to enjoy ourselves. He's under a lot of pressure anyway, and I wasn't going to add to it by talking about baseball. We didn't talk about it at all."

Hall and Sabathia attended the Chargers-Raiders football game in San Diego on Thursday night, then jetted to Las Vegas for the De La Hoya-Pacquiao boxing match at the MGM Grand on Saturday. Sabathia remained in town for the Winter Meetings and reportedly met in person with officials from the Yankees and Red Sox, but was not present when Brewers officials met with his representatives on Monday at the Wynn. The Giants have also met with Sabathia's reps, though it was not known whether the player attended.

Hall insisted that during his trip with Sabathia, the topic of his free agency did not come up.

"That's his decision," Hall said. "He'll make that decision on his own. Obviously he has family members to think about, things like that. He's a great teammate and a great friend of mine, but I'm not trying to steer him to do anything. He deserves to make his own decision, so I'll leave him alone."

Sabathia, a 28-year-old left-hander, went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA in 17 sensational second-half starts for the Brewers and helped to deliver the team to the postseason for the first time in 26 years. He's the hottest topic at this week's Winter Meetings, with a new rumor emerging seemingly by the half hour.

He is from Northern California, recently bought a house in Southern California and therefore is believed to favor the West Coast. That could be one reason why Sabathia did not jump last month when the Yankees offered a six-year contract in the neighborhood of $140 million that would have set a record for a pitcher.

Early Tuesday afternoon, as the roulette and craps tables that line the walkway of choice for lingering reporters and baseball officials began to heat up, a rumor circulated that Sabathia was pulling away from the Yankees' offer. The closest thing to confirmation came in an online report from the San Jose Mercury News, which quoted an unnamed Giants official saying the "perception" was that Milwaukee was emerging as the frontrunner for Sabathia's services.

The Brewers' offer is believed to be in the neighborhood of $100 million for five years. Newsday reported on Tuesday that the Brewers were unwilling to offer a sixth year, but Brewers general manager Doug Melvin told Milwaukee reporters earlier that Sabathia's representatives had yet to ask Milwaukee to up its offer.

Until he hears otherwise, Hall believes the Brewers still have a chance.

"There are a lot of teams that still have a chance," he said.

Adam McCalvy 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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