The reviews on Kevin Millwood during his stay at Yankees extended spring training have been mixed, to be kind. In his most recent column, ESPN’s Jayson Stark passed along a nugget that gave this unattributed review of the former National League All-Star: “He looks terrible. Here’s a guy who used to throw 94-95 [mph]. Now he’s throwing 86.”
Trenton Thunder fans will get a chance to find out for themselves on Sunday afternoon at 1:05 PM, when Millwood is scheduled to face the Harrisburg Senators in his first actual game action of the season. In his first interview since joining the Thunder, the pleasant 36-year-old righty, sat down with me for a one-on-one chat.
Mike Ashmore: What time did you find out you were heading to Trenton?
Kevin Millwood: “Yesterday morning. It was kind of a quick turnaround, but it’s no big deal. I have plenty of time to relax and get ready for Sunday.”
Ashmore: There were some conflicting reports on how things were going for you down in Tampa. How would you describe your progress?
Millwood: “Well, I guess stats don’t really affect me down there. It’s a totally different ballgame. My whole thing was trying to build up arm strength and trying to get my pitch count up, and I did that.”
Ashmore: So where do you feel like your arm strength is at right now?
Millwood: “It still probably has a little ways to go, but it’s definitely closer than it was when I got here.”
Ashmore: A lot of people saw your numbers from last year, and they are what they are…how would you describe your 2010 season?
Millwood: “The first two months and the last two months, I threw the ball really well. The middle two months, I threw the ball really bad. That’s really all you can say. If you split it up into thirds, two thirds were good and one third was really bad.”
Ashmore: Coming into the Yankees organization, there was some talk that you wanted a Major League deal only…what went into accepting the minor league deal?
Millwood: “Well, it was too late for a Major League deal. There was no way I’d be ready for a season. I just went in and tried to go in and start playing right away.”
Ashmore: Excited to get into an actual game then, Double-A or otherwise?
Millwood: “Yeah. It’s definitely better than being in Tampa, you know, being in extended spring. It’ll have more of a feel of a real baseball game.”
Ashmore: Have they told you anything about how long you’re going to be here or what the plan is for you while you’re here?
Millwood: “No. I don’t know, I have no clue what the plans are.”
Ashmore: How many pitches do you think you can throw on Sunday?
Millwood: “I can probably get it up to 90. Last outing down there, I threw 75. So I should be able to get there.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com