Q&A with Binghamton's Lastings Milledge

Inside Pitch's Bryan Hoch caught up with Binghamton Mets outfielder Lastings Milledge for an exclusive Q&A before Tuesday's game against New Britain. Find out what Milledge thinks about his hot start at Double-A, the presence of Carlos Beltran in New York and why Milledge feels he should get more recognition in the media! (Premium Content for Inside Pitch online subscribers)

You've been hitting well to start your season at Binghamton (Milledge entered Tuesday's action hitting .476 in five games). What's been working for you at the plate?

All hitters have hot starts, I just found mine early. I'm just coming out here. The first series, I got a little cocky, and after that everything went uphill.

I know that first game for Binghamton (on July 14 – 0-for-4 with 3 K's vs. Reading) was a little tough for you. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

I hadn't played in six days. Not everybody can wake up after six days and hit, you know. I don't know very many who can do that, and I was a little jetlagged and tired. I knew that after I got that day out of the way, I knew I was going to do well after that.

Did it help your confidence to get your first Double-A hits out of the way the next day?

Yeah, but you're always like, 'Hey, I just need that one hit.' It's always a struggle to get the one hit. So it didn't hurt, it didn't help. It's just kind of like another day, trying to get a hit and I ended up getting four that night.

You come here with a lot of hype, and the billing as the organization's top prospect. How do you deal with the pressures that go along with that?

You take it and ride with it. You can't please everybody, so the only thing you can do is please the front office and please yourself. That's what I mainly try to do, I don't try to please anyone else but the fans, the front office, and all the tickets that are sold, I want to surprise them. I just go out there and try to do my thing every day.

Do you feel like you've been able to do that?

Yeah. I got off to a rough start this year but everything else felt like it was supposed to. I'm having a pretty good year.

Was the reason for the slow start related to the injuries you battled earlier this year?

No, it just wasn't there for the first 60 at-bats. My luck wasn't there, I was hitting balls right at people, and with the weather in the Florida State League, a lot of hits get taken away. It was just a big struggle, but I caught on and did the things I needed to do.

You've batted leadoff in all six games for Binghamton, but you hit second and third most of the time at St. Lucie. Where would you prefer to be?

I can pretty much bat anywhere in the lineup… 1-2-3. Anywhere in there, I feel like I can drive runners in and steal bases just anywhere.

Do you feel like you need to change your approach when you're hitting leadoff or lower?

No, it's the same approach. These guys don't care if you're the leadoff hitter or a four hitter. Everybody gets hits the same, and if you can't hit a certain pitch, they're going to pound you on it. I mean, it's only the first at-bat that you're the leadoff guy. After that, you're just trying to get the first out [of an inning].

You've always played center field in your life, but – and you've heard this before – the Mets have Carlos Beltran locked up long-term at that position. How do you look at that situation now?

I feel like I've got to take his job. It's the best move we made all year to improve the team, and I've got nothing bad to say about Beltran. He's one of the top centerfielders in the game right now. It just motivates me a little bit more to take his position because that's what the minor leagues are all about. We're all about fighting for a job, no matter who it is.

If they asked you to play a corner outfield position, would you be OK with that?

Yeah, of course. I'm just trying to get there and just trying to win a ring for New York City and win a ring for the fans.

We've heard everything from 2006 to later as a projection for you. Deep inside, when do you feel your major league ready date is?

No telling. It's just when they feel like I'm ready to play. It could be next year, it could be the next year, it could be the year after that. Who knows? It's when they feel like I'm ready to perform at the big league level. I'll be ready.

There was an article in the New York Post after the Futures Game that labeled you as a 'Can't Miss Met.' Do you feel like you need to avoid that kind of press, or do you embrace it?

Everybody wants me to do good because I'm the No. 1 pick. I'm going to continue to try to do that. A lot of teams passed me up in the draft so I just want to show everybody I can play a little bit, because nobody's really been talking about me or giving me the press time that I really deserve. I'm just trying to show people I can really play and that I got drafted No. 1 for a reason.

So you believe you should get even more credit than you do?

Not more credit so much. It's just that I never really get anything. Nobody pays attention to my stats or anything, and it's kind of hard at times when there's another guy playing the same position and he's not doing so well, but he gets more [press] time than you. I kind of play with a chip on my shoulder.

These are guys within the organization, or outside, who are getting more credit?

No, those guys are outside the organization, but you know. That's all I've got to say.

Do you feel like now that you're at Double-A, you might start to get some of that publicity you're looking for?

Yeah, definitely. That's why I'm here. I'm trying to concentrate and put up some good numbers so people will be like, 'Hey, that guy's a player.'

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