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O'Connor a winner, and what to make of Milledge

Funny how these things work out, huh? Mike O'Connor got the call that he would be promoted about 2 p.m. yesterday.

"Weird day," he said. He scrambled to his apartment in Columbus, gathered a few things, (presumably) kissed his wife and headed to the airport. He was in the bullpen by the start of the game. By the sixth, he was on the mound. And by the end of the night, he was the winner.

The stunning thing about O'Connor's minor-league stats, and something the club -- as well as just casual observers such as myself -- noticed in spring training is the number of swings and misses he's getting now. He had 20 strikeouts (and just four walks) in 23 innings in Columbus. In his 21 appearances for the Nationals in 2006, he had 59 strikeouts in 105 innings -- along with 45 walks. (His career minor league numbers, however, show he can strike out batters at that level -- 485 Ks in 481 innings coming into this year.) Remember how far this kid has come from a 3-7 year with a 7.07 ERA for Class AA Harrisburg last summer.

"I've been pitching on both sides of the plate with my fastball," he said on his way out of the clubhouse last night. "I'm throwing all of my offspeed for strikes. That's been a key."

Now, he needs to make the adjustment to pitching out of the pen, something he did exclusively at the start of his pro career.

"I think the biggest difference will just be getting on a routine, be able to get ready a little quicker," he said. "Just shorten down how long it's going to take me to warm up. I think that's the biggest thing. They told me they'd give me more time if I need it, not to rush."

The funny part about all this: O'Connor was brought in as a long guy, replacing Ray King, who could only get left-handed hitters out, apparently. When he took the ball in the sixth it seemed he'd be in for at least two innings.

But the key spot in the game came when the Nationals rallied in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs and runners on second and third in a 3-3 game, the pitcher's spot came up. Manny Acta called on Captain Tardy, Lastings Milledge.

What do you make of the Milledge situation, which was addressed in the gamer -- after Felipe Lopez's heroics? Remember, this was one of the chief concerns of Mets players the past two years. He once showed up an hour before a game in Philadelphia. Acta said last night, "I love Milledge, and he knows it." He also said he has to learn. How hard is it to learn to be at work on time?

Finally, Sheinin's trip to Chicago earlier in the week yielded a story on Kosuke Fukodome. This is instructive for Nationals fans, I believe, because the club is all but certain to dip into the Asian market at some point in the next two or three years.

Cubs in town for three weekend games. Can't imagine there won't be healthy crowds on hand, particularly after the Mets drew 32K and 29K the past two nights. Talk to you from Nationals Park.

By Barry Svrluga  |  April 25, 2008; 11:02 AM ET
 
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Comments

Repost: Does anyone know what Manny's other two unbreakable rules are? Just curious.

Posted by: Capitol Hill | April 25, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

hey ladies as you know i was at the wiz game last night, and what a game it was, so i missed all the excitement from the nats, however i just read that mr milledge, who you know im inthe tank for, was benched for showing up late.

now i dont have a big problem with that although he is 2nd on the team in batting, runs and hits and first in doubles.
so maybe instead of trying to make a public example of lastings, they might think about bending over one austin i stink kearns who is guilty of impersonating a baseball player. btw what did i stink kearns do last night since i missed it?
go wiz.

Posted by: dk | April 25, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Mike O'Conner = Bill Bray in Milwaukee in '06

Yall remember that, fuzzy on the details but I'm pretty sure ole Mr. William & Mary coming in to throw a single pitch and picking up his first W - if my details are a bit off then please fix them, but a neat symmetry none the less

Also, remember, it was back during that stretch in '06 when Schneider went on a tear, MASN always referred to him as "Schneiderman".....ahh the good (or bad, maybe, depending on who you ask) ole days

Posted by: Corey | April 25, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I wouldn't read too much into the Milledge issues. He arrived late, we don't know what the reason was, was benched and took it fine. It this becomes a regular occurence it would need to be addressed, but it is really a non-story right now. He had a great AB coming off the bench.

I kinda see some Manny in Milledge and that doesn't bother me at all, especially if he puts up the numbers Manny has over the years.

Posted by: brothbart | April 25, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

There's gonna be a Sea of Royal Blue at the park this weekend. Sometimes it's tough to be a Nats fan in this transient-filled, Redskins lovin' town...

Posted by: N@sfan | April 25, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Let's hope the rain forecast for this weekend stops long enough for a baseball game to take place...

Posted by: Juan-John | April 25, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Go, Green and Gold!

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | April 25, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Y'know what? For some folks, even getting to work on time is hard. Doesn't matter how often you warn or lecture them/us. Time management can be a real problem for some people.

Posted by: Always tardy | April 25, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Newer Post

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

milledge had a good at bat. roped the ball foul and remained patient and trusted the guy hitting behind him.

he's got a little bit of that eric davis/gary sheffield attitude in his swing. that's a tough combination of aggressiveness and patience to maintain. late or not his head was there when called upon to pinch hit. that's a good sign.

the whole country has gone ADD, so what. he'll settle in.

i'm still patting myself on the back for felipe. it was nice to flip back and forth between wiz and nats last night.

Posted by: longterm | April 25, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Rule number two: never hit the buffet table before manny. Ray(dinner bell)King broke this one and look where it landed him!

Posted by: 425 | April 25, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Rule number 3: Never argue with a crazy man. That's why Manny always agrees with Jimbo.

Posted by: Charlie B. | April 25, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Another repost:

Given past benching episodes, I would think that not hustling is another of them.

---

Does anyone know what Manny's other two unbreakable rules are? Just curious.

Posted by: natsfan1a | April 25, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

brothbart,I assume you mean Ramirez and not Acta :)

The comparison is not that far fetched:

Listed ht/wt: Manny 6' 190, Milledge 6' 187
Listed hair style: similar

Stats by age:

Manny:

age 21: 21 games, .170/.200/.302
age 22: 91 games, .269/.357/.521
age 23: 137 games, .308/.402/.558

Milledge:

age 21: 56 games, .241/.310/.380
age 22: 59 games, .272/.341/.446
age 23: ???


---
I wouldn't read too much into the Milledge issues. He arrived late, we don't know what the reason was, was benched and took it fine. It this becomes a regular occurence it would need to be addressed, but it is really a non-story right now. He had a great AB coming off the bench.

I kinda see some Manny in Milledge and that doesn't bother me at all, especially if he puts up the numbers Manny has over the years.

Posted by: brothbart | April 25, 2008 11:37 AM

Posted by: 307/418 | April 25, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Millz justs takes a knee when he needs to. No big deal. Its not like he was the face of the franchise or anything like that.

Millz is just checking out the sights and probably got stuck in traffic, lets give him a break. He is an upstanding guy.

Posted by: Tippy Canoe | April 25, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I referring to Ramirez, not Acta.

Posted by: brothbart | April 25, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Fourth rule is: Eat kosher salamis

Posted by: Joey R. | April 25, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

29750 is closer to 30000 than 29000. round up mister barry.

Posted by: Ed | April 25, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

It's easy to say that other people should easily master the skills we personally have. I am fanatically punctual, so it's easy for me to say other people should learn to be on time. Some of them would probably say I should have learned by now not to eat too much or pop off when I should keep quiet. Some of those people probably get to stuff late all the time. In other words, I can see the mote in my brother's eye, but I ignore the beam in my eye.

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