Leadership role creeps up on Millar
Young-at-heart O's veteran checks in from Spring Training
Kevin Millar, one of the most affable players in the league, returns for his third tour of duty with the Orioles and his third season running a regular Spring Training diary for MLB.com. Millar took a year off in between diaries but is back for more this year, and the clubhouse leader and resident joker takes on nutrition and the changing composition of the clubhouse in this edition.
It's weird to sit around and see all the young faces in here and think that I'm one of the old guys. It's funny, because I still feel like I'm 20 years old in my heart, but I am one of those veteran guys now. I remember like it was yesterday being in the Florida Marlins' clubhouse in big league camp for the first time and just being in awe.
I remember watching Jim Eisenreich -- the guy that used to hit line drive after line drive against my Dodgers when he played for the Phillies -- and being next to Bobby Bonilla, the switch-hitting power hitter from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Now I'm that guy age-wise and service-time-wise, with a World Series ring and having played in three different organizations.
There are guys in this clubhouse looking up and watching every step I make and that other veterans make. It's funny, because I don't feel like that guy and my personality isn't that guy. I'm still young at heart, but once you start getting into your upper 30s in this game, you just are that guy. And now that I am that older guy, I need to take care of myself more.
I went with one of the younger guys, Luke Scott, to Vitamin World. He's very knowledgable about nutrition and different supplements, and he showed me some things I can use. I never would've grabbed a bottle of cayenne extra-hot pills off a counter, but they open your red blood cells and allow more oxygen in. Then I got some neem leaves, which Luke says is a leaf found in Brazil that supports your immune system and acts as a natural anti-inflammatory.
It was a great day, and Luke explained to me the natural ways to make yourself feel good. You can get to a point where you're run down, because this is a taxing sport and we play 200 days from March through October. I feel great, and I've got other stuff like flax oil and glucosamine, but I don't know if I'm going to be suspended for the 2009 season.
Let's get that out of the way: If they start testing in baseball for cayenne pepper -- which is basically a natural greenie -- then I'm out of baseball for 2009. If I look like Brandon Fahey by the time the season starts, then you know cayenne pepper works.
And I'm not alone. Aubrey Huff probably has the worst body on the team, but I've got to really compliment his efforts.
Aubrey's been going to the gym, L.A. Fitness, and he's been eating right and sticking to his diet. I think Aubrey got in Jay Gibbons' and Brian Roberts' ear, and he's used their angles just like I've used Luke Scott's. Aubrey and I will probably have a body-off at the start of the season to see who's got more obliques. I'll probably get a few guys to judge, most likely including Roberts, Gibbons and Jay Payton -- the best bodies on the team -- to really start counting our oblique area. But right now, I definitely have a better body than Aubrey Huff and I definitely want to get that on the record.
Honest to God, I think Dave Trembley's running the best Spring Training I've ever been to. Respect is a two-way street, and what you're seeing is him showing an enormous amount of respect to the players in this organization. The players reciprocate by respecting the things he wants us to do. We show up for the national anthem, we run the balls out and we hustle from station to station and from field to field. I think he has just done a phenomenal job.
The communication is just tremendous. He calls you in the office on Day 1 and says, "Listen, the first 10 days, I don't want you to be in a car for four or six hours." As camp moves on and we start getting closer, we'll make trips. But we're preparing for the regular season, and managers seem to forget that sometimes. This is a good time to take care of your veteran players and it makes things a lot of fun. People ask you about Spring Training, and Fort Lauderdale's a great city. You've got the beach, and it's nice to go down there and have some time off when you don't make the trips.
We all live within a half-mile of each other down by A1A, and the days that you don't have to travel are always fun. We get out of here by 1 p.m. and we can go down to the beach and enjoy the scenery -- the beautiful waves and the sand. But the problem is Jamie Walker picking you up in a 1981 Trans Am. He had a floppy hat, some bad-looking shorts that looked like they came out of the '80s and these horrific Burt Reynolds sunglasses. I think he thinks that he's Smokey and the Bandit.
His front license plate says "I heart Dixie," and we had the T-tops off on that Trans Am. He thinks he's hot in that car, and we cruise up A1A honking at all the people. You'd think that car has power, but it can't get out of the way of its own shadow. It's like a V1 -- it has a three-cylinder. As you're driving this car -- for the 15 minutes you're driving down A1A -- your feet start catching on fire. There's a massive amount of heat that comes up through the floorboards. If you're in tennis shoes, it'll melt your feet. He needs to fix the floorboards and get a bigger engine in this thing, but it fits him.
Kevin Millar's diary appears as told to Spencer Fordin, a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.