Milledge Trade Looking Good In Hindsight

By Zach Berman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 14, 2008

The offseason trade that brought center fielder Lastings Milledge to the Washington Nationals and sent outfielder Ryan Church and catcher Brian Schneider to the New York Mets will take a few years to properly assess, considering Milledge is 23 years old and still developing.

The Nationals, however, already are witnessing dividends. Entering last night's game against his former team, Milledge was carrying a 13-game hitting streak. Catcher Jesús Flores, who has assumed Schneider's starting role, has been perhaps the brightest story in a sour year for the Nationals.

"You guys were judging Milledge in May, and I bet it's different than the way you're judging him today," General Manager Jim Bowden said.

Before the Nationals' series against the Mets from May 12 to 15, Church was batting .321 with seven home runs for the Mets, Milledge was batting .252 with just one home run and Flores had not yet sealed his role as the starting catcher.

Now, Flores leads the Nationals in RBI and Milledge leads in home runs. Milledge's hitting streak includes 5 home runs and 10 RBI.

"Everybody gets their time when they're hot," Milledge said. "You have to remember how you feel because it's not going to last all year."

Church, meanwhile, has suffered lingering effects of concussions that have put him on the disabled list twice.

It still might be premature to evaluate the trade, but the Nationals have two 23-year-olds playing key positions who appear to be major components of their future.

"I liked the trade from the beginning and I will always be behind that trade," Manager Manny Acta said. "I don't think we're going to sit down this year and evaluate that trade and say, 'Hey, we got the best out of it,' or anything. Because that's not what trades are all about. Good trades are about hurting both sides: Them not wanting to give him up and us giving up two good players, too."

Injury Notes

Acta said he expects infielder Aaron Boone, who is recovering from a strained left calf, to be ready for this weekend's series against Colorado. . . . Acta said there still is no timetable for outfielder Elijah Dukes's return from a right calf strain.

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