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Old 06-01-2006, 09:19 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Milledge Turns Boos Into Oohs

It certainly is not taking long for Lastings Milledge to experience all the highs and lows of being a major leaguer.

One day after the euphoria of stroking his first big-league hit, Milledge got his first taste of Met-fan wrath when he botched a Johnny Estrada liner to right in the second inning for his first major-league error last night.

It was followed quickly by his first major-league boos.

"My parents were there," Milledge said. "They'll probably kill me for making an error. But it was a bad play on my part and (the fans) let me know about it. I didn't get upset about it. I would have booed myself. I didn't feel bad about them booing me on the play. But it was kind of like they had a short memory."

That they did, because four innings later, the rookie right fielder made what could have been a game-saving play in what turned into a 1-0 Mets win in 13 innings.

Arizona shortstop Craig Counsell was on first with one out in the scoreless game when Chad Tracy singled through the hole at second base into right field. Counsell, trying to be aggressive, never broke stride and motored on to third base. But Milledge played the ball flawlessly, charging it before firing a bullet to David Wright at third, well in front of a sliding Counsell. It left Arizona with a runner on first with two out instead of runners on the corners with one out.

And all was forgiven by the Shea fans.

"It was a good thing for him to get his first few boos," Willie Randolph said of the early error. "I guess now he's officially a New Yorker. It keeps him humble. But he made an outstanding throw and David put a good tag on him. It was a big, big play at the right time."

Milledge said he had Counsell in his sights all along.

"The whole time between catching the ball and throwing the ball I was like, 'You know what, if this guy goes I'm going to get him.' And as soon as it left my hand I knew I had him."

While Milledge's parents may give him an earful for the error, Pedro Martinez made sure he talked to Milledge after the miscue to show him some support.

"He's a young kid and he's going to make mistakes," said Martinez, who greeted Milledge at the dugout after the second inning. "I wanted to show support and tell him I'll pick him up anytime."

Of Milledge's throw, Martinez said, "It was great. It was exactly what he needed after making the error."

Said the 21-year-old Milledge: "It means a lot to me for a veteran to stay in there with me to encourage me so I can go out and make more plays."

Milledge is hitting .125 through two games, after going 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts last night. But it's not always about what he does with the bat. "Sometimes a defensive play can save the game." Like last night, for example.
"Behind every successful woman there is an astonished man." - Four Star General Ann E. Dunwoody

"Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but some abuse the privilege."
"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

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