12/11/07 9:50 PM ET
Milledge: I love the game, I play to win
Young center fielder introduced to media in Washington
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
Anthony challenges anyone to hang out with his son for one week. According to the father, they will find Lastings to be a homebody who loves to play video games with his brother, Anthony Jr., and good friends.
Lastings had a less than a favorable reputation in New York because he had given high-fives to a bunch of fans at Shea Stadium after hitting his first Major League home run and recorded a rap song, "Bend Ya Knees," which contained foul language. Anthony Sr. acknowledged that he didn't like the song.
"Everybody said he did this and he did that. 'He's wild and a thug.' They don't really know Lastings," he said. "All they have to do is hang out with him for a week and they will find out the type of person that he is. He is a great kid. The people in Washington will find out."
On Tuesday, Lastings was not playing video games. He was introduced, along with catcher Paul Lo Duca, as one of the new members of the Nationals. Milledge, who was acquired in a trade that sent catcher Brian Schneider and outfielder Ryan Church to the Mets on Nov. 30, is expected to be one of the cornerstones for years to come. He will wear No. 44 in honor of two Hall of Famers -- Hank Aaron and Reggie Jackson.
"I respect the number a lot -- the great warriors that wore this number," Milledge said. "I'm not going to say that I'm going to live up to any of the statistics or anything that those warriors have done. I do respect the number."
The Nationals believe that Milledge can develop into a middle-of-the-order hitter and become a good defensive outfielder. He most likely will be the everyday center fielder. Milledge has been in and out of the big leagues since 2006. In 115 games the past two years, he produced a .257 batting average with 11 home runs and 57 RBIs.
"This is the player that all of our evaluators have been watching since his free-agent year out of high school," general manager Jim Bowden said. "He is only 22 years old and has tremendous potential being a middle-of-the-order impact bat. Like Ryan Zimmerman [and] Chris Marrero, Lastings Milledge is an important part of our long-term future in Washington, D.C. He has tremendous makeup and character. He is all about winning, too."
Lo Duca played with Milledge for two seasons in New York and said that the latter plays with a lot of emotion. Lo Duca also made a bold prediction about Milledge.
"I feel you are going to see a superstar in the making. It's a matter of keeping [his head on straight]. He knows that," Lo Duca said. "He is going to make a lot of money in this game. He is the type of kid that can carry a team. He has that much talent. You are going to see a kid that works hard."
Milledge showed no character flaws on Tuesday and he vows to work hard for the Nationals and not to change his personality.
"I don't disrespect the game. I love the game. I play the game with passion. Nobody can take that away from me," Milledge said. "People can think what they want to think on how I play the game. The most important part is I play to win."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.