10/12/2004 7:18 PM ET
Kevin Millar pregame quotes
First baseman discusses his team and the Yankees
Q. You talked yesterday a little bit about you weren't afraid to talk about last year. People in Boston say, "Oh, they are afraid to even discuss last year." How do you look at that and what did you guys learn from it and how excited are you to get back to this stage?
KEVIN MILLAR: I always thought experience was overrated and now as a rookie going, man, they don't need any experienced guys, but I tell you right now with the experience that we had last year and that feeling that we had walking off Game 7, it was gut wrenching and it was a good and bad feeling, because the bad thing is, obviously we lost and we were five outs away in that whole game, but the good part about it is it builds character and it makes you stronger and tougher. As weird as it sounds it's the truth, because this off season I think 90 percent of us are back and we added Curt Schilling and we added Keith Foulke and the guys remember that feeling.
I think we are much more relaxed and it's a controlled swagger that we have. We know we are a good team but we still understand that we have to go out there and execute. I think this time around we're going to try to make it a little bit of a different situation.
Q. We're used to seeing the next day's starting pitcher in this situation. Obviously Pedro did not want to be here. Can you describe what it's like to have him as a teammate and what he's like, if there are different things maybe the fans in New York or other cities have misconceptions about him?
KEVIN MILLAR: Well, I'm his daddy; not the Yankees. (Laughter.) So he answers to me first.
Pedro is very misunderstood in the media, along with Manny Ramirez, but Pedro is a phenomenal teammate and really intelligent and funny guy. This guy is a clown in the locker room. We have a lot of fun with him but this is also a three-time Cy Young Award winner and should have been four the year that Zito won it.
This guy, he's a competitor and there is no doubt at this time in his career he doesn't know baseball, and he showed what he has left in the tank against Anaheim and he'll pitch tomorrow and we're just very lucky and fortunate that we have, two days, aces going, I think that's what makes us so tough.
Q. After last year, can you talk about last year, how difficult was it to watch your old team? You would have been a big cog, to have them have the success that they did?
KEVIN MILLAR: The fighting finish, man. It wasn't difficult at all. I'm a baseball fan. People ask me, who are you rooting for. I had a lot of friends on the Marlins last year and I was rooting for them. It was awesome to see what they did. They got hot at the right time. That's the thing with baseball, you have to play well at the right time and I think it's not always the best team wins the World Series but it's, most of the time, the hottest team. The Florida Marlins, I'm not saying they weren't the best teams but they were hot. The way they were throwing the baseball, Pudge and all of those guys, it was awesome to watch. I think that's what makes the wild card so special is you look at the Anaheim Angels and Florida Marlins and us. That's why I like the wild card because it gives the last seeds a chance to stay alive throughout the season.
Q. You had just mentioned that last year's experience made you guys tougher, toughened you up. Do you feel the Red Sox are tougher than the Yankees, given the journeys that many of the players on the team have made in their careers, and obviously it's not a football game but will toughness be an X-factor in the series?
KEVIN MILLAR: No, I don't think we're tougher. We have a lot more guys that have been nontendered released, non-prospects but the Yankees are a balanced ballclub. The experience factor they have, the edge, with Bernie Williams, Jeter and Posada, they are phenomenal players, big-game players. We know what we have to do to beat these guys, and these guys, people ask us, are we the favorite. We're not the favorite. The New York Yankees are the team to beat.
But I think this is the first year we're about on the same playing field, especially starting pitching-wise, with the addition of Schilling and Foulke. Last year we had pitching by committee and we didn't have Schilling. This year we have Schilling and Foulke and if we can execute and everybody can play the caliber of baseball that they are capable of playing, I think we'll be okay.
Q. I know you've got to compete against them, but can you just talk about Jeter, his ability to do what he does at this time of the year, and do you have any take or any explanations why some guys are able to do that?
KEVIN MILLAR: You know what, as weird as this sounds, but Derek Jeter is, I mean, taking aside that I play for the Red Sox and I'm a Major League Baseball player, being a baseball fan, that's the best player that I've seen play the game. And competing against him now, in the National League I didn't get a chance to see him much, but now I've seen him 45 times in the last couple years. This guy is amazing and he makes the players around him so much better. We all want to see the back of a baseball card and .340 and all that, and that's great but this guy he makes his teammates better around him and he's a winner, and that's what it takes I think at this level. Why he raises his level this time of the year, I don't know, but the great ones always do.
You know, you've got to tip your hat to Derek Jeter because he's a phenomenal player and especially getting the chance to play against him 40-plus times a year, it doesn't get old to watch him.
Q. We talk about Curt Schilling and you guys all say he's a big-game pitcher. Would you describe Pedro as a big-game pitcher? Do you think he pitches best when he's got something to prove?
KEVIN MILLAR: I think so. I think Pedro this year, you know, struggled when we had a tough time scoring runs for him. Pedro is one of best big game pitchers out there. I don't think there's a baseball club in the world that they would not want Pedro in a big game. But we have to find a way offensively to give them a lead. I think we've done that with Schilling at times and Pedro, if we can find a way to get up on him, give him a lead to hold, I think it settles him in, but it seems like it's always lining a 0-0 game or a 1-0 game in the sixth and he's been stung by a home run or something that goes on.
So, Pedro, we have as much confidence in him, you know, as ever. I would not want anybody on the mound in Game 2 other than Pedro Martinez, because I'm his daddy. (Laughter.)
Q. Speaking of which, what was your reaction when you heard the daddy quote? It's been analyzed to death; what was your take on that?
KEVIN MILLAR: You know, I didn't know until the next day. It was funny. I thought it was funny and it will be -- there should be a lot of Toby Keith played here today, that song, "Who is Your Daddy," all of the articles, your daddy this, your daddy that. There's only one way to do it and time will tell. He goes out and wins the game and throws the way he's capable, it looks like he's a genius. Only time will be able to tell. It was kind of funny. I don't know where it came from, because I thought I was his dad like I told you and he left me. (Laughter.) So, I don't know. We'll see tomorrow.
Q. Coming back up a little bit, what is controlled swagger?
KEVIN MILLAR: I don't know. Just sounded good to say. (Laughter.)
It's just, you know, we are idiots, and I just think we're experienced idiots and that comes with that next statement, "controlled swagger." It sounded good. I thought that was nice when you were talking to about a hundred people.
Q. How did the team react and adjust after the trade of Nomar Garciaparra?
KEVIN MILLAR: It went to the last hour. We were in Minnesota and Nomar was called in the office and it happened so quick, it was just like 4 o'clock exactly and he went in the office and came back out and said he was going to the Cubs. It was a bunch of hugs and you wished him good luck, and five minutes later Doug Mientkiewicz came walking over to our locker room and the next day we got Roberts and Cabrera, and it's the business. It's the business side of baseball. It happens every year at the trading deadline, you lose a friend, you lose a teammate but that's the business side and you open your arms to the other teammates.
The job that Orlando Cabrera has done is so underrated because he's replacing a guy, the next Ted Williams, the second icon in Boston. He's been an amazing fit for us and has been able to handle everything, so it's been a great situation for both sides, and you know, you wish Nomar luck. But on the other hand you open your arms to your other new teammates.
Q. Was it a shock?
KEVIN MILLAR: It was a shock, because when you hear the trade rumors and you hear Derek Lowe and Nomar Garciaparra, until it actually happened, it's like, holy cow, they traded Nomar? He's a Boston Red Sock. You move on.
Q. At the risk of bringing the mood down, with the passing of Caminiti a few days ago, his legacy will also be in part his coming out to Sports Illustrated a few years ago and sort of jump-starting some of the steroid stuff that's been going on for the past couple of years. As you look back, are you glad that he did that, that he did begin some of the change that's come about, or, would you have preferred that it had been kept under wraps?
KEVIN MILLAR: You know, I don't know. I mean, everybody's got their opinion and freedom of speech, the whole situation with his death has been unfortunate. But the whole steroid incident, there's so many different ways and roads it's going down, I have no opinion on that. I have no comment-- that's about basically the only thing I have no comment on because you can't -- you can't assume somebody is on it until proven guilty or positive. So it's hard to sit here and assume this guy and that guy and this guy and that guy. That's all you're really doing now in the media as you're reading stuff that guys are suspected, you know, and right now, I mean, I don't know. I don't really have a comment on that right now at this time.
Q. You're here with the same wild-card image and wild-card team, you have a new manager which we are not used to seeing.
KEVIN MILLAR: Bad hair.
Q. Contrasted -- no hair.
KEVIN MILLAR: Right.
Q. Contrast, if you can, the guy from last year and this guy; not compare but contrast?
KEVIN MILLAR: What's that mean?
Q. The differences.
KEVIN MILLAR: Differences, okay. Grady was more country. Tito is more -- he's more of the -- he fits in with more of the idiots like us. I mean, he is a funny guy. You know, there's not a lot of differences because they both have had their doors open and both are players managers and they both don't front-run you, and that's a tough thing to do. They have not forgot how hard this game is, and I think some guys that get out of the game forget how hard it is.
Q. You had a little problem with him though somewhere in the season?
KEVIN MILLAR: No, I didn't. That was -- no, I had questioned a lineup that we had, but it had nothing to do with him. It was assumed it was him, but we were fine. Tito stood by me and stood by me the whole time. That was just a couple of days, it went in a whole other direction but I sat back and let it go. It looked like it was Millar versus Francona, but it wasn't that.
There's really not a lot of differences. They both are tremendous people and they handle that clubhouse tremendously. When I say that, you've got 25 different egos and 25 different salaries and especially our clubhouse, 25 different hairdos and pullovers and hats and facial hair.
So they are pretty similar but Terry might just be a little bit more on the idiot side than Grady when I say that, whatever that means.
Q. On July 24, when Varitek put his mitt in A-Rod's face, it seemed like a turning point. The story is that Varitek was really insisting you guys play on a rainy day that day. Can you take us through that day and if you view it as a major turning point for you guys?
KEVIN MILLAR: Well, that day, it was supposed to be rained out. The field was muddy. It was almost like the movie "Rudy." We wanted to play as a team. We walked into the office and said, we want to play, we're not canceling this game. We had played on worse fields and that was our view. We wanted to play that game. Bronson Arroyo was pitching. It would have been a weird day if it's not raining to cancel a game so we wanted to play as a team. We walked into the office and the ground crew and front office and said, we're playing, get that field ready, we don't care how long we're going to wait. They did and that turned into an amazing game. You had the fight, the three-run home run by Billy Mueller, and we didn't play well the next ten days, we were .500, but that game brought this team together. If there's one game last year it was the Philadelphia when we traveled on Labor Day and came back and Trot hit a Grand Slam or whatever.
But that was the one game that kind of sparked the team and we went 10-0 after that and we started coming together and the trade happened and then everything started clicking. Our starting pitching basically started throwing the ball the way they are capable of and that's why you start winning games because your starting pitching goes 7 innings deep. That might have been the one day that kind of turned the team.
Q. The other day when the Dodgers finished their series with the Cards, they met on the field after the game and shook hands; could you see these two clubs when this series is over shake hands?
KEVIN MILLAR: No. (Laughter.) I mean, behind the scenes, maybe, but we've got to keep that tough-guy image up front there. It's not that you dislike any other team. It's not like a hated situation. Gary Sheffield and I have been teammates and I love him to death. I'm a big fan of Derek Jeter. But when you're competing in these cities and this rivalry I don't think we are going to run out and shake hands if they had clinched or they clinch it. I don't think you're going to see Bernie Williams or Posada run out and shake hands. Behind the scenes you wish luck, but I don't think that will happen.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.