Results tagged ‘ Kevin Millar ’
Several of the Cubs regulars, such as Derrek Lee, Ryan Theriot, Kosuke Fukudome, Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto, will stay back in Mesa to work with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo on Thursday rather than travel to Peoria. The lineup — which includes Kevin “Dad” Millar — vs. the Padres is:
— Carrie Muskat
GM Jim Hendry says Milton Bradley’s implication that someone inside the Cubs organization sent him hate mail last year was “absolutely ridiculous” and the outfielder needs to “look in the mirror.”
In an interview with ESPN, Bradley said he received hate mail while with the Cubs that wasn’t stamped, suggesting it might have been sent by someone inside. Bradley felt he was a “prisoner in his own home,” and said that unless you’re “Superman or you’re Andre Dawson, Ernie Banks, or Hall of Fame, then it’s going to be tough” for African-American players in Chicago.
Hendry said Bradley never said anything to anyone in the Cubs organization about getting hate mail from inside the organization until the interview, which aired Tuesday night.
“That’s absolutely ridiculous,” Hendry said Wednesday. “That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I think it’s time maybe Milton looks himself in the mirror. It is what is it, he just didn’t swing the bat and didn’t get the job done. His production, or lack of, was the only negative.”
If the problem is racial, Hendry said, why did both Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee say they want to end their careers with the Cubs? And, if there was a problem in Chicago, why would Kevin Millar and Marlon Byrd, who are both represented by the same agents as Bradley, the Levinson brothers, have signed with the Cubs?
“It’s really unfortunate you get to that situation where you reflect the lack of production in the year you’re here and try to use other things as excuses,” Hendry said.
— Carrie Muskat
Ryan Dempster said he did not see the ESPN interview with former teammate Milton Bradley, in which the outfielder talked about the difficult time he had in Chicago. Bradley mentioned he received a lot of hate mail. Has Dempster ever gotten any?
“Kevin Millar has been giving me hate mail,” Dempster said, tongue in cheek. “He usually puts a postage stamp on it and then hands it to me. He’s going to get some bad stuff back. After all, he took me deep the other day on the backfield and I’m not too happy about that.”
The Cubs have moved on after last season, which was Bradley’s first with the team. Wednesday was the second day of auditions for the team’s version of American Idol.
“We’re having a blast,” Dempster said. “Everybody’s focused on this year and going out there and getting ready for the 2010 championship season. We’re excited about it.”
Asked again about the Bradley interview, Dempster said: “I didn’t see it — what was it, bad coffee in Seattle?”
The attitude in Cubs camp is that they’ve moved on since Bradley left.
“I try to forget the last pitch I threw,” Dempster said. “We can’t control the past and tomorrow might not come. You just live in the present and enjoy the present and how wonderful it is that we get to play baseball for a living in such a great city like Chicago with the best fans in the world in such a great organization like this. I’m glad I’m here with the Cubs and having a great time with a great bunch of guys and looking forward to this season.”
Dempster heard the boos when he was the Cubs closer. How does he handle angry fans?
“Play as hard as I can,” he said. “I think if you give 100 percent and prepare as hard as you can and take pride in what you do, that seems to work no matter where you’re playing or who you are. I care a lot about winning and doing things the right way. I don’t always do things the right way and I’m not perfect. They’re fans, and they pay the ticket to come in and have every right to boo if they feel you’re not giving 100 percent or your best effort.
“At the same time, I’ve always said about Chicago is they love their Cubs and they’re very forgiving people,” he said. “They want you to do well, because if you’re doing well, their team is doing well.”
LaTroy Hawkins and Jacque Jones also had a tough time while playing for the Cubs. Is it more difficult for African-American players there?
“I don’t know. I’m Caucasian,” Dempster said. “[Derrek Lee] seems to really like it there. He’s really enjoyed Chicago and loves playing there. Some other guys I’ve played with have really had a good time playing there. I know Marlon [Byrd] is going to have a blast playing there. I think any time you struggle, it can be tough, no matter what color your skin is.”
— Carrie Muskat
Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson weren’t at HoHoKam on Tuesday but the Cubs didn’t need them as they are staging their own version of American Idol. Young players like Jim Adduci, Mike Parisi, Brett Jackson and Andrew Cashner had to perform. The auditions are being done in private and will continue on Wednesday.
“This is my fourth or fifth spring here and the mood is great,” Randy Wells said. “Guys are coming in, joking around every day. Marlon Byrd is entertaining people and even [Kosuke Fukiudome] is getting in on the jokes. It’s just fun to come to the clubhouse. You’ve got Kevin Millar, [Ryan] Dempster, Cubs Idol going on.
“It’s fun to show up at the ballpark. I think that’s something that was missing a little bit last year,” Wells said.
— Carrie Muskat
Even though the Cubs will be at home Saturday and Sunday at HoHoKam Park, they will use a designated hitter because the visiting clubs requested it.
“It’s good for us in a way because we can get [Xavier] Nady in there and get him some at-bats,” Lou Piniella said of the outfielder, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
Nady was expected to start at DH either Saturday or Sunday. Alfonso Soriano was expected to start in left field on Saturday.
* Kevin Millar will likely play first base and left field this spring for the Cubs.
* David Patton, the Cubs’ Rule 5 pick a year ago, will most likely start at Double-A Tennessee this year.
“That’s been the scuttlebutt as to where he’ll end up,” Piniella said of the right-hander. “Remember this kid was out of [Class A] ball. Basically the whole time he was here, we were a first place team or battling for first place. It wasn’t easy on him. He made it through the whole summer and now we have him in our system.”
* Former Cubs pitcher Rick Sutcliffe showed up Thursday.
“I heard you were looking for a veteran starting pitcher,” Sutcliffe said to Piniella. “Where’s [Greg] Maddux at?”
Maddux actually has returned home, but will rejoin the Cubs after their trip to Las Vegas on March 13.
— Carrie Muskat
Mike Fontenot is willing to playing some shortstop this spring. He did it in the Minor Leagues in 2007 and also has taken grounders there during the regular season just to strengthen his throwing arm.
Lou Piniella wants Fontenot to be more comfortable at short to help determine the makeup of the Cubs’ bench.
“We’ve got a lot of people to look at here,” Piniella said. “Either you’re going to want a little more defense or you’re going to want some offense. If Fontenot can play some shortstop, we’ll look to carry a bat. If he can’t, we’ll be able to carry one less bat on the bench.
“The positions on the field are pretty well taken except we’re not exactly sure what we’re going to do at second base,” Piniella said. “If [Ryan] Theriot were to get hurt, which we don’t want obviously, we’ll just put the kid at shortstop and let him play.”
The kid is 19-year-old Starlin Castro.
If the Cubs felt they had enough depth at middle infield with Theriot, Fontenot and Jeff Baker, they could keep an extra bat like Kevin Millar, Chad Tracy, Brad Snyder, Bryan LaHair or someone like that. If the Cubs keep an extra defensive outfielder, a defensive infielder and a backup catcher, then they might need some help offensively off the bench.
“That’s what Spring Training is for and we’ll look at it,” Piniella said of the bench makeup. “No determination has been made.”
— Carrie Muskat
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