Nationals’ mlb.com beat writer Bill Ladson reported here that Nationals center fielder Lastings Milledge was optioned to Syracuse on Tuesday. The official explanation for the demotion, according to acting general manager Mike Rizzo, is to help Milledge improve his game after getting off to a very slow start. While I do think that may have been part of it, I’m not buying that as the only reason why he was sent to Syracuse. Other players have gotten off to slow starts, in previous years as well as this year, and they weren’t demoted. Ladson’s article mentioned the fact that Milledge was late for a meeting held by manager Manny Acta on Monday…I’ve also read in other articles and blogs that Milledge is often late for meetings and arrives at the ballpark late. Rizzo claims that he has “very little problems with Lastings’ attitude and his work ethic.” Personally, I think Rizzo is just being tactful…I think character issues had as much to do with Milledge’s demotion as his level of play this season.
I hope the demotion helps Milledge. I hope it makes him work harder to better his game and himself…I hope he doesn’t sulk up there and make the situation worse for himself. I wish Lastings Milledge the best of luck.