While I was sweating out a nasty flu bug this weekend, a slight furor erupted over an interview that Washington Nationals' outfielder Lastings Milledge conducted with SI.com writer John Donovan, for an article entitled, "Spring Hot Spot: Viera", in which the former Mets' prospect said of his time in New York:
"'A lot of veterans [on the Mets] didn't like the way I play the game. They thought I didn't respect it...But the vets here have no problem with me. They know I respect it. They know I work hard.
"'...I can't go through anything worse than I went through in New York. It only gets better from here.'"
Mr. Donovan's article was published on Tuesday 2/26/08, but it wasn't until three days laters, on Friday, 2/29/08, that a response to Milledge's comments came from the Mets in an article by David Lennon at newsday.com entitled, "Mets not happy about ex-Met Milledge's comments", which quoted a fed-up "Golden Boy" David Wright, who says:
"'Enough is enough...You're a Washington National now. Don't worry about what happened last year or the year before that. Just go out there and try to help the Nationals win.
"It makes no sense to bash your former team. He just needs to turn the page and worry about helping the Washington Nationals. Forget about what we're doing over here. Forget about the New York Mets."
Mets' closer Billy Wagner, who admits in Mr. Lennon's article to having put the infamous "Know your place, rook", note in Milledge's locker two years ago while the Mets were on the road at RFK Stadium, says that it was nothing more than, "...rookie hazing that everyone endures," and says of the treatment Milledge received in NY:
"Everyone in the organization babied the heck out of him...We couldn't get on him too much because we were told to lay off of him. It could have been a whole lot worse for him and all we did was try to help him to help us."
...and Mr. Wagner then concludes:
""When you get a guy like Cliff Floyd, a guy that he could someday take his job, and they're out there helping him, it's awful hard to sit there and say we were bad teammates...This business is hard. He probably shouldn't even have been up in the big leagues."
Milledge, though, has no regrets as he tells MLB.com's Bill Ladson in an article entitled, "Milledge happy for new start with Nats" if he had the chance to start over:
"I tell you the truth, if I had to do it all over again, I would do it the same way that I did it...I have no regrets what I did, the way I played the game or anything."
Nationals' Manager Manny Acta has no worries about Milledge having taken "...Milledge under his wing" while both were in NY, according to Mr. Ladson's articled, which quotes Mr. Acta, who references the treatment Milledge received and has a message for Nationals' fans:
"I have never been a guy that agrees on breaking in a rookie by treating him differently than other people," Acta said. "I put my arms around him and taught him some of the stuff that goes on. He's a great kid and you'll find out."
The first series between the two teams takes place April 15th-17th at Shea Stadium. It should be interesting to see how this tension translates to the playing field...and though Pedro Martinez didn't have anything to say about Milledge in any of the articles cited, Who wants to bet me that Pedro Martinez hits Milledge the first time the two face off?