Q&A with Lastings Milledge

It has been a turbulent year so far for the prized outfielder. An injury has slowed his progress and ability to stay at the Major League level, where many had predicted he would remain for most of 2007. Milledge sat down with Inside Pitch to discuss his road back as well as his thoughts on his current role in the organization.

Inside Pitch Magazine: Talk about spraining the ligaments in your right foot.

Lastings Milledge: It was an injury that a nagging injury that just kept going on.

Inside Pitch: When did it start?

Milledge: Third game in the big leagues in the beginning (of this season). I didn't think it was a big deal, I just played until I couldn't play anymore.

Inside Pitch: What was the recovery process? Where did you recover?

Milledge: Port St. Lucie, did a lot of hydro works in the pool and stuff, that's about it. Really nothing you can do. I stayed in the boot for three weeks.

Inside Pitch: What were you thinking when Shawn Green and Moises Alou are injured?

Milledge: There was nothing I can do. I knew I was six weeks away when that happened so there wasn't really anything I could do?

Inside Pitch: Was it disappointing, did it feel like a missed opportunity?

Milledge: No no no, I don't feel like it was a missed opportunity because, I knew throughout the year I was going to get my shot anyway. I still feel like I'm going to get my shot. I don't know when but I will.

Inside Pitch: What are you trying to do on this rehab assignment?

Milledge: I'm just trying to recognize pitches, trying to get back in the groove. I haven't played in two months and I'm a young player; we can't come back as fast as the veteran guys can, it's going to take four of five days to get back in to mid-season form.

Inside Pitch: How do you feel about your minor league rehab assignments? Do you wish you could just get out there in the bigs already?

Milledge: No right now I just need at-bats, I don't care where it is. This is a good level, it's definitely better to go up to the big leagues from this level without skipping beat. All the other stuff really didn't count - the A-ball and Rookie-ball that really didn't count. Now you're at a level where you're facing future major leaguers.

Inside Pitch: What are your memories of your time in Binghamton, do you remember it well?

Milledge: I mean really I only spent a couple months here. I really was just trying to get here and play ball, I really didn't focus on anything else. I just came to the ballpark to play everyday and went back home to sleep. I didn't really get to explore anything like that, just got my at-bats.

Inside Pitch: How do you deal with what seems to be an inordinate amount of a negative press for such a young guy? Does it ever get you down?

Milledge: No, it's just, you know, you just got to work through it. You know what I mean? People are going to write bad stuff, you can't really worry about it. You just got to go out there and work, because most of the guys who talk bad about you never picked up a glove in their life, so you really can't take it seriously.

Inside Pitch: What about trade rumors? They circulated last year and they're floating around again this year too. Do you just put it out of your mind?

Milledge: No, not really, you don't put it out of your mind, you just don't worry about it. You can't put it out of your mind because it's there. They make a move, then they make a move, so, it's not bothering me. It's not like they're taking the bat away from my hands. I'm not getting released, so I'm OK.

Inside Pitch: If they were to trade you now, would you look back on your time with the Mets well, as though things went the way you wanted?

Milledge: I'll look on it as a good thing because now I know I can play any market in baseball. So you know if I go to a low-market team or I go to another big-market team, I know how to handle myself. I know how to handle the press and I know to handle myself and everything like that.

There's really nothing bad here, I mean I hit .313 as a career player here including the big leagues, I mean I did what I had to do.

Inside Pitch: What's the best and worst moments of your Met career thus far?

Milledge: I don't' feel like I had any bad down moments. Of course the highlights are just doing good in the games: first home run, first hit, highlights, throwing guys out at the plate. I had a lot of highlights last year.

I didn't really have any down moments, I made a couple errors but that happens, I didn't really have like any moments where I felt like I shouldn't be there or anything.

Inside Pitch: What's your focus right now?

Milledge: The focus is getting to the big leagues, getting myself ready for the big leagues right now. So I have my mind set on nothing else but being a major league player, that's what I'm trying to do right now, and that's what I'm going to continue to do.

Inside Pitch: There's a picture of you with your arm around Omar Minaya in the dugout. Talk about your relationship with Omar.

Milledge: Omar is like the reason why I'm here. There's probably people that probably wanted to trade me or something, but I would say he's my biggest fan. He's the guy that believed in me the most, no matter what people say about me. He knows me personally, and that means a lot, because you know, you always wonder what the front office guy thinks about you or people like that, how the owners view you and stuff you like that. Anybody else who has differences about me, feel like I'm not the guy—but it doesn't matter because he's behind me, he's the guy that makes the decisions. He's the guy, so if I know that he's in my corner, nothing else really matters.

Inside Pitch: Who are you closest with in the Mets organization?

Milledge: I'm close to (Mets minor league hitting coordinator) Lamar Johnson. He's a guy who I really, really feel comfortable talking to: talking about hitting, talking about the game. I would say he's probably the closest guy because he gets on me. He's not afraid of my status, that I've been first rounder, he doesn't care. He views everybody the same—if I'm not getting the job done he's going to tell me I'm not getting the job done. That's what I respect about him, that's what I like about him.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nInside Pitch Magazine: Talk about spraining the ligaments in your right foot.
\r\n
\r\nLastings Milledge: It was an injury that a nagging injury that just kept going on.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: When did it start?
\r\n
\r\nMilledge: Third game in the big leagues in the beginning (of this season). I didn't think it was a big deal, I just played until I couldn't play anymore.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: What was the recovery process? Where did you recover?
\r\n
\r\nMilledge: Port St. Lucie, did a lot of hydro works in the pool and stuff, that's about it. Really nothing you can do. I stayed in the boot for three weeks.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: What were you thinking when Shawn Green and Moises Alou are injured?
\r\n
\r\nMilledge: There was nothing I can do. I knew I was six weeks away when that happened so there wasn't really anything I could do?
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Was it disappointing, did it feel like a missed opportunity?
\r\n
\r\nMilledge: No no no, I don't feel like it was a missed opportunity because, I knew throughout the year I was going to get my shot anyway. I still feel like I'm going to get my shot. I don't know when but I will.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: What are you trying to do on this rehab assignment?
\r\n
\r\nMilledge: I'm just trying to recognize pitches, trying to get back in the groove. I haven't played in two months and I'm a young player; we can't come back as fast as the veteran guys can, it's going to take four of five days to get back in to mid-season form.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: How do you feel about your minor league rehab assignments? Do you wish you could just get out there in the bigs already?
\r\n
\r\nMilledge: No right now I just need at-bats, I don't care where it is. This is a good level, it's definitely better to go up to the big leagues from this level without skipping beat. All the other stuff really didn't count - the A-ball and Rookie-ball that really didn't count. Now you're at a level where you're facing future major leaguers.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: What are your memories of your time in Binghamton, do you remember it well?
\r\n
\r\nMilledge: I mean really I only spent a couple months here. I really was just trying to get here and play ball, I really didn't focus on anything else. I just came to the ballpark to play everyday and went back home to sleep. I didn't really get to explore anything like that, just got my at-bats.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: How do you deal with what seems to be an inordinate amount of a negative press for such a young guy? Does it ever get you down?
\r\n
\r\nMilledge: No, it's just, you know, you just got to work through it. You know what I mean? People are going to write bad stuff, you can't really worry about it. You just got to go out there and work, because most of the guys who talk bad about you never picked up a glove in their life, so you really can't take it seriously.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: What about trade rumors? They circulated last year and they're floating around again this year too. Do you just put it out of your mind?
\r\n
\r\nMilledge: No, not really, you don't put it out of your mind, you just don't worry about it. You can't put it out of your mind because it's there. They make a move, then they make a move, so, it's not bothering me. It's not like they're taking the bat away from my hands. I'm not getting released, so I'm OK.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: If they were to trade you now, would you look back on your time with the Mets well, as though things went the way you wanted?
\r\n
\r\nMilledge: I'll look on it as a good thing because now I know I can play any market in baseball. So you know if I go to a low-market team or I go to another big-market team, I know how to handle myself. I know how to handle the press and I know to handle myself and everything like that.
\r\n
\r\nThere's really nothing bad here, I mean I hit .313 as a career player here including the big leagues, I mean I did what I had to do.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: What's the best and worst moments of your Met career thus far?
\r\n
\r\nMilledge: I don't' feel like I had any bad down moments. Of course the highlights are just doing good in the games: first home run, first hit, highlights, throwing guys out at the plate. I had a lot of highlights last year.
\r\n
\r\nI didn't really have any down moments, I made a couple errors but that happens, I didn't really have like any moments where I felt like I shouldn't be there or anything.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: What's your focus right now?
\r\n
\r\nMilledge: The focus is getting to the big leagues, getting myself ready for the big leagues right now. So I have my mind set on nothing else but being a major league player, that's what I'm trying to do right now, and that's what I'm going to continue to do.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: There's a picture of you with your arm around Omar Minaya in the dugout. Talk about your relationship with Omar.
\r\n
\r\nMilledge: Omar is like the reason why I'm here. There's probably people that probably wanted to trade me or something, but I would say he's my biggest fan. He's the guy that believed in me the most, no matter what people say about me. He knows me personally, and that means a lot, because you know, you always wonder what the front office guy thinks about you or people like that, how the owners view you and stuff you like that. Anybody else who has differences about me, feel like I'm not the guy—but it doesn't matter because he's behind me, he's the guy that makes the decisions. He's the guy, so if I know that he's in my corner, nothing else really matters.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Who are you closest with in the Mets organization?
\r\n
\r\nMilledge: I'm close to (Mets minor league hitting coordinator) Lamar Johnson. He's a guy who I really, really feel comfortable talking to: talking about hitting, talking about the game. I would say he's probably the closest guy because he gets on me. He's not afraid of my status, that I've been first rounder, he doesn't care. He views everybody the same—if I'm not getting the job done he's going to tell me I'm not getting the job done. That's what I respect about him, that's what I like about him.
\r\n
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