Millar making his mark in clubhouse
Veteran's playful attitude proving infectious
JUPITER, Fla. -- Kevin Millar has a reputation throughout baseball for being a loud, fun-loving and sometimes playfully obnoxious kind of guy. But it seems as though you need to have him on your team and be around him on a consistent basis to get a feel for what he's really like.
"No, you know that on the opposing team," Blue Jays second baseman Aaron Hill said.
Since Millar signed with Toronto in February, the 27-year-old Hill has gotten a chance to hang out with the popular Millar daily. But Hill saw plenty of the veteran first baseman/outfielder when he was a division rival with the Red Sox and Orioles.
And he said Millar is more than just a carefree guy.
"Even though [Millar] has that reputation, when the lights come on and it comes to getting ready to play -- even though he's relaxed -- he's going to give you what he's got," Hill said. "[He's a] great guy to have in your clubhouse, [a] great guy to have when you're winning and losing, and he's just got a good attitude."
But third baseman Scott Rolen voiced a somewhat more negative opinion of Millar.
"[He's] overweight, [has] limited ability [and is a] dead-pull hitter," Rolen said. "[He's] lucky to have a job."
Rolen was obviously just joking. In fact, he and Millar have shared the same agent for a while and have a great relationship. This season, the two will likely end up being locker neighbors in Toronto, as they were before the Spring Training finale against the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium on Saturday.
"Nobody else wanted him, so it was a process of elimination, and I got stuck with him," said Rolen, taking another playful snipe at his new teammate.
Considering the dynamic differences in personalities, with Rolen being a reserved, laid-back guy and Millar being one of the most outlandish characters in the game, the All-Star third baseman said it's a good mix.
"Sometimes we sit and stare in our lockers too much," Rolen said. "It will be good for me for sure because I'm pretty analytical and focused, and I'm not afraid to stare in my locker a little bit.
"He's the complete opposite. And I think that will be good for him. I think it'll be good for me."
After hitting .234 in 145 games for Baltimore in 2008, Millar, an 11-year veteran, had to settle for a Minor League deal in the offseason. But even though the 37-year-old went into Saturday batting just .186 (8-for-43) this spring, his righty bat, experience and infectious personality left little doubt he'd make the 25-man roster to start the season.
Millar doesn't know a lot about Toronto except what he learned during his three- or four-day stays during road trips, which consisted mostly of just going from the hotel to the ballpark, and other than attending some Los Angeles Kings games growing up, he doesn't know much about hockey, either.
But he knows he likes his new team.
"Facing these guys, you never wanted to face these guys," Millar said. "But being that they're in Toronto and being that this team finished 10 games over .500 last year and still was in fourth place, which puts you, in a lot of divisions, at the top, they didn't get much attention.
"If you do five games better this year, next thing you know you're in a Wild Card race. So that's the hope we've got."
Alden Gonzalez is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.