June 30, 2009. The Pittsburgh Pirates made a trade with the Washington Nationals to get Lastings Milledge and Joel Hanrahan. Pirate fans knew they were getting a high-ceiling reliever in Hanrahan, but they weren’t sure what they were getting with Milledge. The guy was a former first round pick by the New York Mets, but had a lot of trouble being consistent and behaving himself in the major leagues. The Pirates saw the upside there and took a chance on Milledge, which excited me (at the time).
Milledge played just over a season’s worth of games (171) with the Pirates, and didn’t perform all that well in that time. He hit .282/.332/.386 as a corner outfielder, which isn’t going to cut it for most major league teams. Lastings did clean up his act in Pittsburgh and made a lot of fans like him. However, at the end of the 2010 season, the Pirates cut him loose. After that, Milledge was picked up by the White Sox and played in 2 games for them while spending the rest of the year in the minor leagues.
The White Sox have since become the fourth team to give up on him, and now Milledge finds himself ready to play for a new team… in a new country.
The Yakult Swallows have signed Milledge. The Swallows are a professional team in Tokyo that plays in Japan’s Central League. I would post their recent records and accomplishments here, but nobody cares.
It’s sad to see one of the games’ most interesting personalities (in my opinion at least) be lost to another country, but I suppose this is good for Milledge. The team is paying him more than half a million dollars, so he’ll have a pretty comfortable life over there doing what he loves. The question now becomes if Milledge will take his neon shoelaces with him.
Now I have a question for you, is there such a thing as Japan Central League TV? JCL.TV? Because if there was, I would be an interested buyer looking to follow Milledge religiously as he goes on this Japanese adventure.