Results tagged ‘ Kevin Millar ’

5/15 Rizzo on hair, Theo & Jed, & more

Anthony Rizzo appeared on MLB Network’s “Intentional Talk” and revealed that he had to borrow a belt, that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are his “step parents,” and he’s jealous of Jeff Samardzija’s hair. During the interview with Kevin Millar and Chris Rose, Rizzo was asked for his first response when told the Cubs wanted to give him a long term contract.

“[I said] ‘Where do I sign?'” Rizzo said.

He did sign a seven-year, $41 million deal on Monday but apparently had to borrow a belt from teammate Ryan Sweeney for the news conference.

Epstein, Hoyer and Jason McLeod, the scouting and player development director, first selected Rizzo in the 2007 Draft. Then Hoyer traded for him when he and McLeod went to the Padres. Epstein, Hoyer and McLeod were reunited on the Cubs, and traded for Rizzo again. Does the first baseman have a man crush on Epstein and Hoyer?

“Those are my step parents, to be honest, Jed, Theo and Jason,” Rizzo said. “They brought me along on their ride. I think I have a crush on them more now.”

Millar and Rose wanted to know who has the best hair on the Cubs. Rizzo said it’s not him.

“[Samardzija] and [James] Russell have the best hair on the team so far,” Rizzo said.

He may like the locks, but during a quick Q&A, Rizzo couldn’t spell Samardzija’s name.

– Carrie Muskat

5/6 He's back

Kevin Millar isn’t ready to take the uniform off yet. Released by the Cubs at the end of Spring Training, Millar has signed with the St. Paul Saints in hopes of getting a job in the big leagues. He’s expected to make his debut Saturday. According to the Saints’ GM, Millar made it clear he wanted “to return to where it all began professionally for him, to give back to the community and to work with our younger players as Leon Durham and other veterans with the Saints’ 1993 championship team did for him.”

Millar began his career with the Saints in 1993. He led the team to its first Northern League championship, batting .260 with five homers and 33 RBIs. He was to make his official return Saturday when the Saints play at Chaska’s Athletic Park.

– Carrie Muskat

3/30 Tracy in, Millar out

The Cubs decided they needed a left-handed bat and someone who could backup at third over a right-handed bat, and picked Chad Tracy over Kevin Millar for the final roster spot. Micah Hoffpauir and Sam Fuld were both optioned to Triple-A Iowa.

“He brings intangibles to the table but so do the rest of them,” GM Jim Hendry said of Millar. “He knew before camp started that it was kind of a long shot.”

Hendry met one on one with Millar to give him the news.

“Kevin was great,” Hendry said. “He’s a pro. I think he knew that I agonized over [the decision]. He’s a guy you’d always want in your organization. I’m not here to say he’s done [playing]. He knows down the road he’s a potential employee here. He’d be a great coach. He’s a tremendous human being and helped some guys here even though he’s not getting on the plane Saturday.”

With the Cubs trimming their roster this quickly, Millar may be able to catch on with another team.

The Cubs bench is much different from a year ago and much more experienced. They now have Tracy, Xavier Nady, Jeff Baker, Koyie Hill and rookie Tyler Colvin.

– Carrie Muskat

3/30 Millar waits for word

The Cubs were expected to make their final roster move on Tuesday and Kevin Millar can only wait. He, Chad Tracy, Micah Hoffpauir and Sam Fuld were still in camp, waiting to see who got the last spot on the bench.

Millar knows he has the reputation of being popular in the clubhouse and blended in well with the team.

“That’s the thing — you get labeled, ‘Oh, he’s a great clubhouse guy,'” Millar said Tuesday. “I’m going to give you a tough at-bat late in the game. You’re a threat. Anybody who can hit a home run is considered a threat off the bench. I’m a threat off the bench. I wanted to give Lou some flexibility. ‘Hey, he can go to left.’ If Soriano blew out, am I going to play 60 games in left? No, that’s not my job. You’d call a left fielder up. But if there’s a doubleheader, you go out to left, or a double switch, you go to third base. Those are the things you want to bring. We know I can play first.

“There’s things that I can do to help the club other than being the dancing bear and trying to get everybody to eat together. We forget about that side of it. I’ve had a lot of at-bats in the big league.”

He admits he’s been pressing at the plate a little. This is the second straight season in which he hasn’t found out if he’s made a team until the last week.

“It’s a miserable feeling from the players’ side,” Millar said. “You hear, ‘Well, relax, don’t worry about it, don’t press.’ You’re human. I’m 38 years old and have almost 5,000 at-bats in the big leagues. You’re still going to try to press to do well. That’s the human factor. It’s your career.”

– Carrie Muskat

3/29 The roster, walks & runs

The Cubs are expected to trim the roster to 25 on Tuesday.

“Then we’ll be set to go,” Lou Piniella said.

There are four players — Chad Tracy, Kevin Millar, Micah Hoffpauir and Sam Fuld — battling for one spot. Millar is the only right-handed hitter in the group and he was hitting .242. He pinch-hit on Monday and popped up to the shortstop. Tracy was hitting .243 and can play third base if the Cubs want a backup there. He also has a career .302 average as a pinch-hitter. Hoffpauir was hitting .239 this spring and can play first and some outfield. Fuld, who can play all three outfield spots, was hitting .147.

“We’ve talked about it over and over again,” Piniella said. “Everybody brings a little something different to the equation. I think we have a pretty good idea but we’ll wait until tomorrow.”

* Tyler Colvin now is batting .455 after going 1-for-4 on Monday and driving in two runs. But he hasn’t drawn a single walk this spring.

“He hasn’t swung and missed that much,” Piniella said.

It will be interesting to see who makes the adjustments first — other teams or Colvin.

“If he continues to hit and the scouts start going over the fact that ‘Hey, this young man is swinging the bat so let’s be a little careful,’ then the walks will start coming,” Piniella said. “Right now, they’re just pitching to him.”

* Lefty James Russell, who will be one of three rookies in the bullpen, hasn’t given up a run this spring in 11 innings over nine games.

* Expect Derrek Lee, Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez back in the lineup on Tuesday.

– Carrie Muskat

3/28 One opening left

Here’s the Cubs’ Opening Day roster so far:

Pitchers: Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells, Tom Gorzelanny, Carlos Silva, Carlos Marmol, John Grabow, Esmailin Caridad, Jeff Samardzija, Sean Marshall, James Russell, and Justin Berg.

Outfielders: Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome, Marlon Byrd, Xavier Nady and Tyler Colvin.

Infielders: Derrek Lee, Mike Fontenot, Jeff Baker, Ryan Theriot, and Aramis Ramirez.

Catchers: Geovany Soto and Koyie Hill.

Caridad, Russell, Berg and Colvin are rookies. There’s one opening left and still in camp are Kevin Millar, Chad Tracy, Micah Hoffpauir, Sam Fuld and Chris Robinson.

– Carrie Muskat

3/28 Colvin is in

Tyler Colvin is in. Lou Piniella said Sunday the young outfielder, who was batting .475 this spring, has made the final 25-man roster.

There’s now four players — Kevin Millar, Chad Tracy, Micah Hoffpauir and Sam Fuld — battling for one spot. When first asked about the bench, Piniella talked in generalities.

“Everybody who is here has special merits,” Piniella said before Sunday’s game. “It’s just a question of which way we decide to go. We’ll probably sit down and talk about it at length. Everybody brings something to the table. They wouldn’t be here if they didn’t. We only have one spot. That’s the problem and there are four people left and we can only keep one.”

OK, if there are four left, then Colvin is in?

“If we can’t keep Colvin after the spring he’s had, something’s wrong,” Piniella said.

Colvin said he won’t believe he’s made the big league roster until he’s traveling to Atlanta for the season opener. Has Piniella told him?

“I’ll help him today get on the plane,” Piniella said. “He’s had a heck of a spring. My gosh, you should be rewarded for coming to Spring Training [like that]. Look at [reliever James] Russell — he hasn’t given up a run this spring and he’ll be with us. You reward the performance in spring. If not, there’s no sense in keeping statistics.”

It will come down to Piniella giving Colvin enough playing time to stay sharp.

“I have to do that,” Piniella said. “I’ve talked to Jim [Hendry] about that. I’ve got to find some playing time for him. We don’t want him just making the club and being a defensive replacement. We want him to do a little playing.”

– Carrie Muskat

3/27 Bench players down to five

The battle for the Cubs’ last two bench spots has come down to Chad Tracy, Micah Hoffpauir, Kevin Millar, Sam Fuld and Tyler Colvin.

“You can’t figure it out from the player’s part,” Millar said. “You have to just do your thing.”

Millar started in left field on Saturday and has been taking grounders at third and first.

“I came in here to be as versatile as I could and take my groundballs at third, play some left field, play some first base and do whatever they ask me to do,” he said. “My body feels good and we’ll see what happens here in the next few days.”

With the trade of Andres Blanco to Texas, there aren’t many decisions to be made. Colvin had four hits on Saturday and now was batting .475. It’ll be tough to leave him behind. GM Jim Hendry said they’ll make a final decision by Tuesday or Wednesday.

“I feel confident,” Millar said. “It’s a great group of guys here and you just have to get these guys believing. This is a good team. I feel confident. You just keep going to the finish line and ultimately they’ll make a decision.”

– Carrie Muskat

3/24 Nady to play OF in Minors game

Xavier Nady will play in the outfield for one of the Cubs’ Minor League teams at Fitch Park Wednesday. Nady, coming back from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, most likely will be limited in throws. The rest of the team is headed to Surprise for the second straight day, this time facing the Rangers. The lineup is: RF Fukudome, 2B Fontenot, 1B Lee, DH Millar, CF Byrd, LF Soriano, 3B Tracy, C Soto, SS Blanco. Sean Marshall is starting.

– Carrie Muskat

3/23 Funny man

Kevin Millar is keeping everybody loose in the Cubs clubhouse, including his clubhouse neighbor, Kosuke Fukudome. Does the Japanese outfielder understand all of Millar’s jokes?

“No,” Fukudome said, smiling.

But Fukudome has seen the positive impact Millar brings to the team.

“It’s really nice to have a player like him,” Fukudome said through interpreter Hiro Aoyama. “He encourages everybody and whatever position he is offered to play, he does what he needs to do without any complaining. It’s really a nice asset to have.”

Ryan Dempster keeps the pitchers loose. Millar, who is a non-roster invitee, is doing that with the position players.

“Players like him, he does encourage everybody,” Fukudome said. “He is nice to have.”

However, if Millar makes it, Fukudome may ask to have his locker located far away.

“I think he talks a lot,” Fukudome said. “He might talk while he sleeps.”

– Carrie Muskat

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