Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Acquired this past off season in Our Washington Nationals biggest trade, Lastings Milledge has been all but handed the starting centerfield job. New Number 44 in your scorecard is widely considered a talented young player. A potential force near the top of the batting order. After practice, two days ago--Lastings Milledge was kind enough to give Sohna and I some time for a chat. Not surprisingly, coming over from New York--we found him guarded in his responses.
I want to first talk about your transition from New York to Washington. What were your first thoughts about the trade? (SBF)
“At first, I could not believe I was traded to the same division. I was shocked. Everybody told me that if I got traded, I would be going to another division and probably an American League Team. At the same time, I knew right away I would get the opportunity to play because The Nationals were looking for a centerfielder to replace Nook (Logan).”
Knowing New York pretty well, The Media can be tough—were they over reacting to how they were treating you? (SBF)
“Hey, they got their stuff to write, deadlines to make, stories to make—but I really don’t blame them. They have a job to do and I helped them out a lot!! (Busting Out Laughing)
Is that a good thing or a bad thing? (SBF)
“Take it in whatever way you want.” (The Laughs Continuing)
“So, what do need to do to become a good Major Leaguer? (SBF)
“Defense, just defense and making the great plays—not just making the routine plays. I need to play great defense. Defense wins games, and that’s what I need to work on the most.”
Is centerfield your best position? (SBF)
“Yeah, its my natural position to play. Its where I am most comfortable.”
Offensively, what do you provide? (SBF)
“I provide runs. I feel I can set the table for (Ryan) Zimmerman and Dmitri (Young). So, I bring a lot of excitement to the game. I play hard and I play to win. I am not here to lose. That’s what I bring each and every day.”
Your feelings about this Nationals Organization? (SBF)
“Wow, this placed is really organized. So far, I am really pleased in the way Spring Training is run. Manny (Acta) has put together a really good program.”
Other than being consistent, do you have any goals? (SBF)
“We want to win The NL East, that is what we are here to do. We are not here to do anything else. People can say we are two to three years away---but why not start now.”
Will you enjoy that first trip back to Shea Stadium? (SBF)
“You bet. In fact, I look forward to it. I look forward to playing them 18 times this year and see what we can do.”
Speaking of Dmitri and Zimmerman, how has the remainder of the team treated you? Have they made you feel welcome? (The African Queen)
“Absolutely, the veterans over here treat everyone the same, whether you have just a couple of months in the Big Leagues or 15 years. Everybody is treated the same. We are working together hoping to find some team chemistry. And, we are combining our personalities together so we can win.”
Are you looking forward to Washington & The New Ballpark? (The African Queen)
“Yes, new fans and a new ballpark and I am ready to play and start winning.”
When you played for The Mets—was there anything special about playing in DC?
“Just a STAT day (build up your statistics). We were going to win. We really did not take Washington seriously. But, if you look at the records closely, Washington played .500 ball, or maybe couple of games under against The Mets."
You are now wearing Number 44, Alex Escobar’s old number. Did you have to buy him off—to receive that jersey number? (SBF)
“No (laughing). I did not. They (The Nationals) kind of gave it to me.”
With that, A Few Minutes With Lastings Milledge concludes. What was funny about this chat was the fact that Lastings was, by far, the very last person on the fields that day. Everyone else had left--including the coaches--and Milledge was taking some time to talk with some of his friends who had arrived in Viera, Florida. At the same time, the Autograph Hounds were all standing out in the parking lot--not realizing Our New Number 44 was still near the fields. Sohna and I got a chuckle out of it.