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Kevin Millar on M&M: ‘In the big leagues right now, there’s not one team clicking’ 04.18.14 at 1:07 pm ET
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Kevin Millar

Kevin Millar

MLB Network analyst Kevin Millar made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Friday to talk about the Red Sox‘ slow start to the season. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Coming off their 2013 World Series title, the Red Sox are 7-9 after taking the final two games of a three-game set with the White Sox.

“It’€™s a whole different year, and there’s going to be a whole different identity,” Millar said. “You have a great nucleus of guys … but at some point the identity is going to have to figure out what are we as a group? Are we a power-hitting team? Are we a run-scoring [team]? Base-stealing? And right now, it’€™s just a little bit slow going for the Sox and deservedly so — we’re in the first two weeks of the season.”

The Red Sox have struggled at the plate and are ranked 23rd in the league with a .232 batting average.

“Early on everything’s a little bit magnified,” Millar said. “You’re trying to get your swing. You’re trying to get your numbers. You’re trying to get that scoreboard to not look at a .150, .200 average. You understand the team’s good right? The one thing I see is just figuring out who’s going to lead off consistently.

“The main thing is that [Dustin] Pedroia – the X-rays are negative, he got a cortisone shot in the wrist — that would have been a huge loss. [Mike] Napoli had the finger thing. So there’s a little nagging, a little injuries that they’€™re going to go through. They’re not clicking on all cylinders yet, but in the big leagues right now, there’s not one team clicking.”

Along with their struggles at the plate, the Red Sox also are dealing with the distraction of Jon Lester‘€™s contract negotiations. A report Saturday indicated that the team offered Lester a four-year, $70 million deal.

“Let’s not fool anybody — it’s a negotiation,” Millar said. “It’s big money we’€™re talking about. You’re talking about Lester and the one time he gets a chance to go out there and pop financially. At the end of the day, it’s a time to set up your family, and Lester loves Boston — loves playing there. I know this guy has been a bona fide big horse for this team for many years. He’s pitched many big games. This is a great pedigree.

“You’ve just got to understand, you allow this guy to leave, you better have a replacement. … That market we all know is a little bit tougher to play in if you don’t have the makeup to deal with the media, to deal with the down times when your feelings are hurt. We’ve seen that happen over the years, but I think Jon Lester – at some point they’ll get closer, they’re just a little off right now, but it’s the business side from the Red Sox front office.

“There’s no doubt in my mind he’s been everything that they’ve wanted him since he’s been in this organization, and he’d be a tough one to let go.”

For more team news, visit weei.com/redsox.

Read More: Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, Kevin Millar, mike napoli
Kevin Millar on M&M: Michael Pineda pine tar controversy ‘not a big deal’ 04.11.14 at 12:50 pm ET
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Kevin Millar

Kevin Millar

MLB Network analyst Kevin Millar made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Friday to talk about Red Sox news, focusing on Thursday’s loss to the Yankees and the controversy surrounding pitcher Michael Pineda. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

In Thursday’s game, Pineda appeared to have pine tar on his wrist and arm as he kept the Red Sox bats in check during New York’s 4-1 victory.

“This goes on, first of all, let’s get that out there,” Millar said. “This goes on in every single clubhouse, every single staff. ‘€¦ It goes on. Has it ever bothered me? Never. It’s part of what goes on. The problem I have with it now if I’m the league, how do you address this. Because I don’t mind it going on, but you can’t carry a pine tar rag in the back pocket. Don’t throw it in my face.

“So, that’s my biggest thing. If I’m the league, how do I address this. Because we’ve seen this from Jon Lester in the postseason last year, we’ve seen it from [Clay] Buchholz in Toronto, we’ve seen it from now Pineda, we’ve seen it with Kenny Rogers in the World Series. And it’s not a bad thing, it doesn’t mean, oh, you’re a bad guy. But don’t throw it in my face now.”

Millar said it benefits everyone if the pitchers have a strong grip on the ball.

“It’s not cheating,” he insisted. “You’ve never thrown a baseball in 37-degree weather. You need some grip. And it goes on with hair mousse, it goes on with hair gel when it dries up, players that go to their hat off, whether it’s rosin — I’ve seen players put rosin in their hair. That’s why we use rosin on the mound. That’s why there’s pine tar and Stickum on our bats. Because if you have a little bit of grip the bat’s not going to go flying out of your hands into the stands and hit somebody in the head.

“It’s the same thing with a baseball. As hitters, I don’t mind a guy having a grip. Because I’d rather him have a grip and throw the ball where he wants to throw the ball than throw it at my neck by accident. So that’s why it’s not a big deal from the players’ standpoint. It’s fun for media to talk about. It’s fun to go, ‘Oh my God, what was it?’ It’s fun to hear Pineda say it’s dirt. Right. Did you just go No. 2 in the bathroom stall? Brother, that ain’t dirt. That’s all the fun stuff. The bottom line is it’s not a big deal.”

For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Read More: Kevin Millar, Michael Pineda,
Kevin Millar on M&M: ‘Rays are a scary, scary club’ 10.04.13 at 12:48 pm ET
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Kevin Millar

Kevin Millar

MLB Network analyst Kevin Millar joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to preview the ALDS between the Red Sox and Rays.

Millar said his biggest concern regarding the Red Sox is their four-day layoff, while the Rays have played twice in that span.

“I’d rather be the Rays,” Millar said. “That’s the routine that we’re in — two different countries, four different cities, playing baseball, elimination games, and then they get a chance to throw Matt Moore against them? A 17-game winner? That’s the scary thing. The Rays are a scary, scary club.

“The good news for the Red Sox is that they know each other. They know the strengths, they know the weaknesses. But right now, it’s going to be nice if the Red Sox can get out to a nice two-run lead, the double off the Green Monster by somebody to get this crowd fired up, and know that your timing at the plate is back.”

Jon Lester faces Moore in Game 1 Friday afternoon.

“It’s going to be a good little game, I think,” Millar said. “I don’t think you’re going to see balls flying out of the yard tonight. I think Lester and Moore will throw a nice game. The advantage is Jon Lester. But stay away from Evan Longoria. … If you see Evan Longoria go deep tonight, shame on you, Sox.”

Koji Uehara has had a record-setting season as Red Sox closer. While Uehara usually starts the ninth inning, manager John Farrell has said he won’t hesitate to use the 38-year-old for more than three outs in the postseason, and Millar agrees.

“I think you ride the hot hand,” Millar said. “He’s been unbelievable. Can’t take anything away from him. He’s been unbelievable. … Keep riding him. Throw him five, six outs, whatever it is. Do whatever you can to win the game that night.”

To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Read More: Evan Longoria, Jon Lester, Kevin Millar, Koji Uehara
Kevin Millar on M&M: Red Sox’ comeback against Yankees ‘was eerie, it was very similar’ to ’04 09.06.13 at 12:12 pm ET
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Kevin Millar

Kevin Millar

MLB Network analyst Kevin Millar joined Mut & Merloni on Friday morning to discuss the Red Sox following Thursday night’s dramatic 9-8, 10-inning victory over the Yankees.

“[The rivalry] is back. That’s what I love about it,” Millar said. “Whatever you think about the [Ryan] Dempster-[Alex Rodriguez] thing, it brought this rivalry back. It gave it some substance. The Yankees are back in the playoff hunt, which is better for baseball. As much as Red Sox Nation would love to see the Yankees 46 games out, this is better for baseball right now. It’s exciting. The Orioles, the Rays, the Yankees, the Sox — this is great.

“So now we have a chance to watch a series, and it’s going to be a great four-games series. And we saw a great first game.”

The Red Sox’ ninth-inning comeback against Mariano Rivera on Thursday was reminiscent of the 2004 ALCS Game 4 comeback against Rivera that started with a walk from Millar and a stolen base from pinch-runner Dave Roberts, who then scored the tying run on a single by Bill Mueller. This time, Mike Napoli hit a two-out single and was replaced by Quintin Berry, who stole second, went to third on an error and scored the tying run on a single by Stephen Drew.

“Yeah, it looks like we squashed those ghosts,” Millar said of the ’04 team. “There used to be ghosts in Yankee Stadium. … We killed those ghosts. We killed those ghosts. [2003], that Aaron Boone ghost, he’s gone. So, I think we kicked those ghosts out.

“It was eerie, it was very similar.”

While Thursday’s loss appears devastating to a New York team that is battling to stay in the hunt for a wild card spot, Millar cautioned not to count out the Yankees.

“It’s a bad loss, but it’s not the end-of-the-world loss,” Millar said. “It’s a tough loss, they lost, they shower, they get right back out and they’ve got another game tonight. So, it’s not like, oh, they’re coming out with their bottom lip hanging down. … The Yankees are a veteran club. And they’re a different club. They’re a way different club than they were early on in the year. You’re looking at [Alfonso] Soriano and A-Rod and [Curtis] Granderson and Derek Jeter in the lineup, and [Robinson] Cano obviously on fire. This is a different club now. So, I think they’ve got a little swag and I think they’ll bounce back. … If they go out and win three games in a row, we’re not even talking about last night’s game.”

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Read More: Kevin Millar, Ryan Dempster,
Kevin Millar on M&M: David Ortiz is Hall of Famer, best DH of all time 07.12.13 at 2:48 pm ET
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Kevin Millar

Kevin Millar

Kevin Millar checked in with Mut & Merloni on Friday afternoon, and the MLB Network host was unequivocal when talking about the merits of David Ortiz, who earlier this week broke the all-time designated hitter hits record.

Ortiz has been on a tear for much of the season since returning in mid-April from an Achilles injury. He leads the team in home runs (19), RBIs (65) and OPS (1.041) while posting a slash line of .327/.412/.629.

And, according to Millar, Ortiz is far from done.

“I think he’s the best DH of all time, and I’m not just saying that because he’s a closer friend, either,” Millar said. “I’m telling you that because of who this man is. This man has dominated this position. I get so sick of, ‘Oh, he’s a DH. He doesn’t field, he doesn’t throw.’ That’s not his job. He’s a designated hitter. … He’s the best ever in history at that job.

“If they’re going to, at times, down the road, talk Hall of Fame — and his numbers aren’t even done — David Ortiz should be a Hall of Famer. He’s 37 years old. … He’s smarter, his body doesn’t have a whole lot of stuff going on there. He hasn’t ran in right field for 10 or 15 years, he hasn’t played shortstop for 10 or 15 years, so there’s not a whole lot of wear and tear.

“The man is in better shape than when I played with the guy. You go grab Big Papi’s arm, and this man is built like a brick. You look at this man that’s the best at his position in the history of the game.”

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Read More: daniel nava, David Ortiz, John Axford, Kevin Millar
Kevin Millar on M&M: Red Sox have ‘very similar clubhouse to what we had’ 06.28.13 at 2:00 pm ET
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Kevin Millar

Kevin Millar

MLB Network host Kevin Millar joined Mut & Merloni on Friday afternoon, and the former Red Sox first baseman, who finished spending much of his week in Boston and at Fenway, had praise for the Red Sox in general and a pair of players in particular: John Lackey and Dustin Pedroia.

Millar was in attendance for Lackey’s dominant outing Wednesday and gushed about the right-hander who has been the Red Sox’ best starter in recent weeks.

“He’s back,” Millar said. “His velocity is at 94, hitting 95, and he’s got the eye of the Tiger. He was injured when he was throwing — he had that rough year [2011], then he had surgery — now you’re looking at a healthy John Lackey. That’s a huge, huge addition because you have Jon Lester, you have [Clay] Buchholz, you went out and signed [Ryan] Dempster, you got [Felix] Doubront.

“Now you have Lackey as the old Lackey? That’s what is going to keep this team going.”

Millar also referenced the time he spent in the clubhouse as Fenway this week when mentioning Pedroia. The second baseman’s preparation in particular is representative of what Millar credited with spurring much of the team’s success in 2013.

“Dustin Pedroia cares about the wins and the losses, and it shows. There’s not a lot that he can give up. He’s 5-foot-7. He can’t do a lot of things, but he’s one of the best players in Major League Baseball. He’s got the heart of a tiger,” Millar said. “This group, the preparation, you look in all these guys’ eyes. I’m walking around, and it’s a very similar clubhouse to what we had. Just a bunch of baseball players, long beards. They’re gamers and they care about each other.”

The past two weeks, Millar has insisted Will Middlebrooks is the Red Sox third baseman and that the team had to decide between Stephen Drew and Jose Iglesias at shortstop.

Now that Middlebrooks has been demoted indefinitely to Triple-A Pawtucket, however, Millar gave credit where credit is due to Iglesias.

“He went out in the offseason and got a little stronger. He’s not swinging a butter knife anymore,” Millar said. “He’s got some offense. He’s not just a guy with some tremendous hands. Watching him, you start to see the game slow down.

“Iglesias forced his way to play — forced his way into the lineup. Is he your everyday third baseman? Right now he is. But future-wise, he’s ultimately going to be in the middle. But he has forced John Farrell and the Red Sox to basically show their hand.”

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Read More: Alex Rodriguez, brian cashman, Clay Buchholz, Dustin Pedroia
The Real One-Five: How Kevin Millar became a star 06.24.13 at 9:39 am ET
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Kevin Millar (AP)

Kevin Millar (AP)

Gabe Kapler spent parts of 12 years in the major leagues from 1998-2010, playing for the Tigers (1998-99), Rangers (2000-02), Rockies (2002-03), Red Sox (2003-06 – with a brief interlude in Japan), Brewers (2008) and Rays (2009-10). He also spent a year managing the Red Sox’ Single-A affiliate in Greenville. Follow him on twitter @gabekapler.

In 2004, at a tiny breakfast spot at the base of the Westin Times Square in New York City, Kevin Millar and I sipped coffee and explored a number of familiar themes. As usual, Kevin was trying to persuade me to join him in the exercise of “show-driving” in a town car with tinted windows, bottled waters and crisp copies of the Wall Street Journal. As usual, despite his endless efforts and persuasive gifts, I remained steadfast in my desire to take the subway to the park.

But the substance that day involved more than the usual banter. That morning was a meeting that secured our bond as friends forever. It created a connection stronger than our love as teammates, which was already very much intact. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Gabe Kapler, Kevin Millar,
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