2/19 Cubs add an "idiot" in Millar
Kevin Millar is the first to admit he’s not a five-tool player.
“I don’t think I have a tool box,” Millar said Friday. “That’s not what made me. What made me is I’ve always loved it more than anybody else and that’s always the big thing.”
Millar, 38, signed a Minor League contract with the Cubs and is battling for a spot on the bench. He’s excited about being in Arizona — it’s his first Spring Training in the state. He’s also reunited with former Florida teammates Ryan Dempster and Derrek Lee.
“We lost a lot of games together,” Millar siad. “I think we lost 100-something games a year. But you learn from those times and now you look at the success these guys have had and just to be back is awesome.”
Millar isn’t really what the Cubs are looking for. They’re already overloaded with right-handed bats.
“When you sit back as a player and look at the numbers and right-handed, left-handed, obviously it’s it’s not a great fit on paper,” Millar said. “My role is to come in here and have a good camp and hopefully win a spot on the bench. That’s the main thing is just to be a veteran and have some leadership qualities and do the best you can. You get caught up in numbers and stuff as a player and it’s tough and it doesn’t make sense at times. It always works out so we’ll see what happens.”
He does have a reputation as being a great clubhouse guy. The Cubs had some discord last season, primarily created by Milton Bradley, now with the Mariners. Millar talked to Dempster before signing with the Cubs.
“[Dempster] feels this is a good spot, being that I’ve played in a place like Boston and went through a lot of the same things — there was a huge curse there and it was a huge thing and 86 years [without winning a World Series] and it was almost like ‘This is this year’ – every year is the year,” Millar said. “We’ll see what happens.”
Millar batted .297 in 2004 when the Red Sox ended their so-called curse and won the World Series. The main thing, Millar said, is to have fun.
“You go out there and you compete for three hours and play the game hard, play the game right, but you can have fun,” he said. “I think guys forget that sometimes. I think there’s such a pressure and you have to act like somebody you’re not. Be yourself. It’s a game.”
He joked that he begged GM Jim Hendry on his hands and knees to let him play for the Cubs. This is the second straight year Millar has signed a Minor League contract. He made the Blue Jays last year and batted .223.
“Last year was the first time I had to be a role player and it was a learning experience,” Millar said. “The American League is tough. Once you accept it, it’s a lot easier. In the National League, I think have a chance to be involved a lot more than in an American League game. We’ll see what happens.”
Somewhere deep in his locker were six or seven gloves. He couldn’t find any of them Friday.
“But I’m 50 years old,” he said. “I might only be able to pinch hit. Shortstop is out, center field is out but I can catch. I can play the corners and catch.”
Geovany Soto shouldn’t worry about his job. Millar is well known for his clever ability to come up with nicknames — he labeled the Red Sox “idiots.”
“We might have to think of something around here,” he said. “I have to make the team first. [Idiot] is my nickname back at the house.”
If Millar didn’t make the big league club, would he accept a Minor League assignment? He didn’t want to consider that.
“When you look at your paperwork and it says ‘Iowa Cubs,’ you just have to close your eyes when you fill that stuff out,” he said. “I’m thinking ‘Chicago.’”
– Carrie Muskat