Milledge Is Happy to Take One For Team
Saturday, August 30, 2008
The Washington Nationals don't have many league leaders, but they do have one in the category that illustrates how well a guy takes a beating. In that regard, center fielder Lastings Milledge is better than almost any other player in the league. Thirteen times this year -- including three times in the last week -- Milledge has been hit by pitches, second most in the National League.
After two of those recent plunkings, Milledge writhed in pain but stayed in the game. Against Chicago, he took a pitch on the left hand; Thursday night, a pitch bruised him on the left forearm.
But Milledge intends neither to change his batting stance -- he guards the plate, hugging the inside corner -- nor add protective padding, at least beyond the elbow shield he uses.
For as long as Milledge can remember, he's been getting drilled by pitches. It's a part of his game, and a part he intends to maintain.
"Nobody is going to run me out of there," Milledge said. "One of these times it might catch me and put me out for a while, but when I come back I'm going to be right there. [Pitchers] can do whatever they want to do. That's just how I hit. Pitchers might not like it, but they have to deal with it because I'm going to be there."
Among NL players, Milledge trails only Philadelphia's Chase Utley (21) in hit by pitches. Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks also has 13.
"They're trying to pitch him inside," Manager Manny Acta said, "and that's always good if he's not backing down."
Once in his career, Milledge was burned by his approach, breaking his right hand in spring training 2004. The incident didn't deter him: He was hit by pitches 12 times, 13 times and 14 times, respectively, in his three minor league seasons.
Injured pitcher Shawn Hill, evaluated yesterday by orthopedist James Andrews, likely has bone buildup behind a ligament in his right elbow, Nationals team physician Ben Shaffer said. Andrews thinks a scope to clean out Hill's elbow "might be all that's necessary," Shaffer said.
Hill is also scheduled to have his forearm examined Wednesday in Birmingham, Ala., by specialist Tom Hunt. No date for the scope has been set.