Like Jose Reyes and David Wright before him, Lastings Milledge’s major-league debut was a big deal. Several New York area newspapers yesterday summoned columnists from days off or other assignments to take in Milledge’s first day at Shea Stadium.
Are we seeing a three- or four-week audition while Xavier Nady recovers from his emergency appendectomy or will a dazzling first impression have a lasting impact, putting Milledge in the lineup on a fulltime basis and putting Nady in the fourth outfielder’s role when he returns? “Xavier Nady is our rightfielder,” Willie Randolph insisted before Tuesday’s game, before later adding, “Anything can happen.”
If the kid is a phenom, Nady won’t get his job back, which will make the Mets’ bench stronger for what will surely be a pennant drive. If Milledge’s stay is brief, he’ll benefit from the experience. It’s a win-win situation for the Mets.
“Quickest hands I’ve seen in a long time. If he continues to learn, you’ll be watching him here for a long time,” Cliff Floyd said. “I’m looking forward to watching him. He has a knack. He knows what he’s doing. I think he learned a lot in spring training. He knows what he’ll be one day. He’s just doing what he’s asked to do now.”
Translation: When Milledge is with the Mets for good and not just a stop-gap measure, he won’t be batting eighth.