NEW YORK - The Mets have halted negotiations with first-round draft pick Lastings Milledge while they investigate allegations that he had sexual contact with girls as young as 12 when he was in high school in St. Petersburg, the Daily News reported Tuesday.
The allegations reportedly stemmed from an unsigned letter that said his school should look into misconduct by Milledge, at the time a 16-year-old junior at Northside Christian. The Pinellas County Sheriff's Department investigated, and the state's attorney's office took over the case.
Milledge was not charged but was expelled from Northside Christian. He transferred to Lakewood Ranch High School in Palmetto for his senior season.
"Our crimes against children detectives unit was very serious about pursuing this case," sheriff's spokeswoman Marianne Pasha told the Daily News. "They felt strongly there was some victimization involved."
Milledge, now 18, has denied the accusations, the newspaper said.
"He was never arrested, never charged, never appeared before a judge," Milledge's attorney, Robert Heyman, told the Daily News.
Milledge, an outfielder, was selected 12th overall in June.
Although the allegations were reported in the St. Petersburg Times and elsewhere after his expulsion, Mets senior vice president David Howard said the team did not know about them until recently, the Daily News reported.
SECOND PICK ON BOARD: The Brewers have agreed to terms on a contract with infielder Rickie Weeks, the second overall pick in the June amateur draft out of Southern University.
No terms were disclosed, but general manager Doug Melvin confirmed the sides had been discussing a major-league contract. Weeks will report to Maryvale of the Arizona Rookie League today, scouting director Jack Zduriencik said.
Weeks is the only player among the top four picks to have agreed to terms. Delmon Young, chosen first by the Devil Rays, is unsigned.
GRIFFEY'S RISK: Reds centerfielder Ken Griffey said he knew he was taking a risk by returning before his shoulder was fully healed.
Griffey said the team doctor had warned him there was lingering damage from April 5, when he dislocated his right shoulder trying to make a diving catch.
Doctors advised that he probably would need surgery to fix tears in the shoulder but gave him the option of trying to play and having the procedure after the season.
Griffey returned 51/2 weeks after the injury even though the shoulder still was bothering him and played until he tore a tendon in his right ankle July 17, requiring season-ending surgery.
YOUTH ACADEMY: Major League Baseball will build its first youth baseball academy in the United States, a $3-million facility at Compton (Calif.) Community College projected to open next summer. Plans call for two regulation baseball fields, one softball field and one youth field on more than 20 acres.
ASTROS: Second baseman Jeff Kent was suspended two games and fined an undisclosed amount by Major League Baseball for pushing his manager into an umpire during an argument July 26.
ORIOLES: Leftfielder Melvin Mora went on the disabled list to give him time to recover from a nagging hand injury. "While his hand is getting better, we didn't think he would be ready anytime soon," manager Mike Hargrove said. Mora, fourth in the AL with a .325 average, hasn't had a plate appearance since July 27.