Friday, May 23, 2008

A Few Minutes With Lastings Milledge

Lastings Milledge was quite the engaging young man at The ESPN Zone this past Wednesday Afternoon. And after the conclusion of the signing session for fans, Our Washington Nationals Centerfielder was kind enough to give me a few minutes of his time. A one-on-one interview picking up on some of the topics discussed earlier and some others on my mind.

With that, here we go with A Few Minutes With Lastings Milledge.

There was an interesting quote from you the other day in The Washington Post after a reporter asked you whether centerfield is your best position. You responded that you are not fit to be a corner outfielder because you are not going to hit 30 or 40 Home Runs per season. Can you elaborate on that? (SBF)

“Centerfielders should be able to do more in the lineup. And when you take a centerfielder and put them in right or left field—your expectations have risen. Now, he must put up the power numbers and that can be difficult (for me). When I am in centerfield, I can just play my natural game and play how I grew up. There is less pressure on me—rather than moving to right or left field and do things that you can’t do.”

Are you comfortable playing in centerfield? (SBF)

“Yes, I am comfortable playing in centerfield. I think that is my primary position. But then again, I do have a lot to learn. I have a lot of repetitions to get. So, I am only going to get better.”

There was a story in The DC Examiner Newspaper that said you are a very gifted athlete, but not necessarily a gifted outfielder. Do you feel you can be a good outfielder and improve on your play? (SBF)

“Yeah. I have been bouncing around from left to right to center. Once I get consistent reps in centerfield—I will be a great centerfielder.”

As far as your hitting is concerned, what do you need to work on right now? (SBF)

“Nothing. I just need to go out there and get some good pitches to hit. Everybody goes through their own ups and downs. Whether it’s now or later, you are going to fall into a slump. Hopefully, I got mine out of the way and can improve on what I have been doing.”

You mentioned during the Q & A here at The ESPN Zone that sometimes the stands behind home plate in stadiums are so high—that it makes it difficult to track baseballs coming off the bats of hitters. Is that really the case? (SBF)

“Yes, because the baseball will be in the seats and you can’t really get a read off the ball until it gets above the seats and into the sky—where you can really see the ball well. It’s difficult, but the more reps you get in chasing those flies, a couple of years down the road, I will know how everything plays and I will be a decent fielder.”

Does that 14-foot wall at Nationals Park—help you or hinder you? (SBF)

(Laughing) “Oh-it’s OK. Just don’t expect me to be jumping over top of it!! (Both of us busting out laughing). It’s not that big of a deal.”

Looking to improve, before a ballgame—what are doing to enhance your game—in the field and at the plate? (SBF)

“I take plenty of flies off the bat in BP. I am always out there shagging the balls—that’s as close to live baseball as it gets. Taking those balls off the bat and working on my mechanics out there are important. I am trying to be consistent and that holds true in the batting cages as well.”

You knew Manny Acta in New York--obviously—how important is he in your development, so far? (SBF)

“He’s been supportive. I have not gotten off to the start that everyone wanted me to. But he is still there for me and still has my back. He knows that sooner or later, he is going to get the type of player in me—everybody wants. Now, there have been some struggles. The whole team has been struggling a little bit. But, we are winning as well, too. We can sacrifice some individual accolades to help the team.”

“Is it difficult to adjust from New York to Washington? Is this home yet? (SBF)

“”This is home. I am actually more comfortable here because there is a lot going on in New York!! Man, that place is unbelievable!! There are a lot of people. There is a lot of Chaos. But here it is more like my home in Florida—a lot of things are laid back. And still get a good taste of the big city.”

Easier to deal with the press—I guess? (SBF)

(Laughing) “Definitely, Yes!! No comparison!!”

Over the next few months—any short term goals to get your game going? (SBF)

“We just need the team to win. I keep elaborating on it. But winning takes care of a lot of things. If you can help the team and you are not doing as well as you want to do—that’s OK. You end up having more time to work things out. If you are not helping the team and the team is not winning—you can become more of a liability. I don’t want to be that.”

Final question: You feel you have all the skills to be a good outfielder? And what you need is experience playing on The Major League Level? (SBF)

“Yes, Definitely. I have just been in the Big Leagues for a little over a year. Everybody has gone through similar trials. The best players in the game went through it. But I feel I have the skills to be an All-Star Gold Glove Centerfielder—knowing I still have a lot more to work on. I will continue to work hard and eventually it will come.”

With that, my conversation with Lastings Milledge came to an end. There were a few other media outlets waiting to speak with him. Lastings Milledge is an interesting person to chat with. Confidence in himself, a trait not lacking in this young man. There is a lot of pressure on him to succeed in Washington. And at 23 Years of Age--Lastings Milledge will be given every opportunity by Our Washington Nationals to reach his self assured All-Star Status.


Anonymous said...

What a joke....This will turn out to be the end of Jim Bowden and Manny Acta.....You and I both know he does not have anywhere near the skills he thinks he has.

Look at the quotes, He has "nothing to work on at the plate"....."just have to get a good pitch to hit"......If that is all he knows then pitchers are going to continue to carve him up until Acta and Bowden face facts OR let this guy waste their baseball careers.

I would love for you to call it as you see it......what say you on this guy perception of reallity?

SenatorNat said...

I'm glad that we aren't considering moving him to the position of 3rd Base Coach, "where there is a lot more pressure to know where everyone is, and to score runs..."

Washington: First in War; First in Peace; and Lastings in the National League East!

Trust in testing for confidence which is on steroids. All Good.

Screech's Best Friend said...

anonymous-I have steadfastly stated--at least three times now--that Milledge is a below average outfielder, without a strong arm and he runs the bases poorly. And at times, he is a little bit out of line with his "youthful" antics. I don't think I could be more clear. If you haven't read that here--then you are not reading closely. But whether I believe that or not--the team is going to give him every chance to succeed at 23 years old.

Placing blame on the high seats behind home plate as to why he can't track certain flights of baseballs was a curious answer in Milledge’s discussion at the ESPN Zone to fans and that's why I asked him again the question in the followup. And he didn't change his remarks.

Anonymous said...

At the beginning of the season Bob Boone made a side remark that he thought the AAA pitching roster may be better than the MLB roster.
I think he could have said the same thing for the outfields.

Anonymous said...

The question is do you think is a future Gold Glove All-Star Centerfielder or not?

I do not see it. I take it you do not see it. I think his comments show fundamental personality flaws that will lead to under achieving his potential for sure. Do you see his “confidence” (over) as a plus?

The real questions to you then are do you feel the Nats are making a good decision and do you think he is improving at the plate? We have watched years of baseball and played the game at high levels. Given his believe in what he needs to work on and how he plans to go about it, do you like him as a cornerstone of the Plan? Do you like Jimbo's approach of giving him a starting job in CF no matter how bad he plays (as long as he get to the Park by 4PM)?

Anonymous said...

So the question is it better to fail miserably at the MLB level or learn and grow in the minor leagues?

JayB said...

Well if I had one question to you (choose to ignore it if you like) is do you feel an outfield of Pena in LF, Milledge in CF and Dukes in RF is step in the right direction for this organization. Follow up question, if yes is your answer; do you think putting them into the same outfield at the MLB level is the best way to develop them?

Screech's Best Friend said...

No--I am not convinced Milledge is an answer yet. He has alot more to prove. He needs more seasoning in the outfield and if that's a AAA--so be it. I don't mind his bravado that much--in some respects it can be good--but he should curtail it a little until he actually proves something. Otherwise he looks a little silly.

As much as some don't like Ryan Langerhans, he is quite the excellent outfielder and can help.

Dukes has tremendous Skills that are unrefined. He SHOULD be playing AAA, but it would appear The Nationals wish to keep close wraps on him--for personal reasons--and they are making the choice he will grow at The Major League Level. Considering his past--I can understand that.

I have nothing more to say about Wily Mo.

JayB said...

Thanks for your thoughts.......I agree that Milledge looks foolish at the mic and in CF. I had not thought of keeping an eye on Dukes as a reason to keep him here instead of where he clearly needs to be in AAA. I am sure you noticed that very strong throw from RF last night.....He is a potential CFer.

Pena, is not a National League player and he is a DH at best. His holes in his swing will never allow him to be an everyday MLB player....I would guess 3 more years with 2 new teams and then out of baseball.

Bottom line we started the season with a chance to develop a great outfield, per Jimbo, and it sounds like you agree, at best we have a LF playing out of position and a raw talent who needs to be in AAA who is getting carved up in RF.

Not a lot of progress for the Plan.