The Washington Nationals might come to regret trading Lastings Millege to Pittsburgh one day, maybe as soon as the first time the Nats play Milledge's Pirates this season, June 8-10 at home in Nationals Park. According to Lastings Milledge's father, Tony Milledge, who's quoted in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette article by Chuck Finder entitled, "Baseball 2010: McCutchen, Milledge find bond", his 24-year-old son, whose 25th birthday is Monday, has some regrets about the time he spent in the first two MLB cities that gave him a chance to become an everyday major leaguer, but the younger Milledge appears to have found himself a home in Pittsburgh:
"'This is the first time I've seen smiles on his face,' Tony Milledge said earlier this spring training, referring to the son who admits he made his own troubled major league path previously, with the New York Mets and Washington Nationals. 'Everything now is like he's born, like it's the first time it ever happened. If he's got a smile on his face, he can play.'"
Milledge, who's hitting .298 (14 for 47) with a .377 OBP, 6 walks, 2 doubles and 4 RBI's in 18 games this Spring, was on Sirius/XM's The Show earlier this week with former DC GM Jim Bowden, who acquired the '03 1st Round outfielder from New York in return for catcher Brian Schneider and outfielder Ryan Church in a November 30, 2007 trade with the Mets. Of course, the conversation inevitably turned to his time with the Nationals, when Mr. Bowden's "The Show" co-host Jody McDonald asked how Milledge settled on the Spring Training first cut of a jersey number "85":
The Show w/ Lastings Milledge: (excerpts)
Jody McDonald: "...(You) came up with the Mets, wore no. 44, went to the Nats, stuck with 44, now with the Pirates, 85? That's a guy-who's-got-no-chance-to-make-the-major-league-roster-in-Spring-Training-number, where'd you come up with 85?
Lastings Milledge: "Well, first of all, Jim [Bowden] knows, that we got Adam Dunn. I told Adam that, 'He's gonna have his number, and I'm gonna give him is number, I don't want anything, I'm gonna give you the number, because, you're not gonna come up short of 40 homers because you don't have your number,' so I told him, you're going to have number 44, I changed my number and I change it to 85 for the simple fact that I was born in 1985, I just wanted a higher number anyway and I wanted to keep my number for the rest of my career, and I don't think anybody's going to fight me over 85."
[Laughter] (ed. note - "I'm thinking Milledge totally jinxed Dunn, who finished the '09 campaign with less than 40 HR's (38 HR's) for the first time in five seasons.")
Jim Bowden: Hey, Jody. I kidded Lastings, I said, 'No, the real reason you went to 85 is that your routes in the outfield are kinda like a wide receiver, so you wanted to be 85 like a wide receiver, that's what I was kidding him on...Hey, Lastings, you've been traded a couple of time, I traded Ryan Church and Brian Schneider to get you, now Ryan Church is on your team with the Pirates, do you ever look at Ryan and go, 'Man, they traded him for me?'"
Lastings Milledge: "No...actually, you know, at first I didn't know really who Ryan Church was and then I didn't really know him as a player, all I just knew is about his stats, but when I actually got to know him and to see what he can do, he's a really, really good player. And you know at first, I thought that ok, well they're getting a steal, but at the same time, I didn't know about him at all...either one of them, I didn't know about him at all, but as I really got to look at his game and when I got traded for him and he went to the Mets and I followed him with the Mets and he had a real, real good year until injuries started to come up, I started to look at him like, ok, alright, well this guy is a really good player, I really got traded for somebody, him and Schneider, that are really establshed big leaguers...because at first, you kind of look it sideways, but you know those guys are really, really good ball players, and to be with him now, he's teaching me a lot about the game and how to go about my business as well, so it's been good, he's a real, real good player."
Jim Bowden: "Lastings, have you talked to Willie Harris lately?"
Lastings Milledge: "Yeah! Yeah, man I always talk to Willie. Willie always keeps me in line. If I ain't doing something right, Willie definitely lets me know what's going on, even though I'm on another team, but we definitely talk, at least probably once a week, once or twice a week, so, uh, you know I still talk to him, still got good relationships with pretty much everybody on the team, so..."
Lastings Millege is penciled in in left for the Pirates this season, ahead of the Pirates' fourth outfielder Ryan Church, with Andrew McCutchen in center and Garrett Jones in left. Brian Schneider signed with the Phillies this winter after two seasons in New York. The Nationals, who sent Millege to the Pirates in exchange for Opening Day center fielder Nyjer Morgan and reliever Sean Burnett, figure to have both players on their 25-man roster when the season begins on Monday. And Jim Bowden can't stop talking about the Nationals...