Millar: Chemistry not overrated

Updated: February 5, 2010, 1:55 PM ET
ESPNChicago.com

Kevin Millar will try to prove that he can win a spot on the Chicago Cubs roster as a right-handed hitter off the bench who can play the corner infield positions and the outfield.

But the character who helped the Boston Red Sox end their World Series drought in 2004 said he will bring more to the Cubs than just his performance on the field.

"Everybody is looking at stats ... I get it," Millar, who signed a minor-league contract with the Cubs, said Friday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "But my point is when you're making a team and trying to bring in a bunch of different personalities I think everybody's got a certain amount of intangibles that they bring.

"Obviously, I'll bring some leadership qualities. I've won a World Series. Having a chance to play with guys like Ryan Dempster and Derrek Lee, we came up together in Florida. It's trying to make a family atmosphere and trying to get everybody to pull on the same rope and trying to get everybody to believe that we can do this."

The Cubs have to hope Millar can bring some of the magic that surrounded another supposed cursed franchise, the Red Sox, when they won their first World Series since 1918 in 2004. Millar became an iconic hero during his time in Boston, coining the phrase "Cowboy up" during their 2004 World Series season.

Millar sees no reason the Cubs can't be like that Red Sox team.

"You've always heard that the Cubs are the lovable losers. You go out to the bleachers, you have some beer, you root for the Cubs and they get blown out 11-2 and we scream Harry Caray," Millar said. "That's not what it is about. When I signed with Boston in '03 they had the same negative [atmosphere]. The media beat you up. The one thing that I think our group brought is that we didn't care about everything that was said. All we had to do was believe we could play and win the game that night.

"This whole curse stuff, it isn't funny. It's not the lovable loser anymore. You're got to go into camp focusing on the big picture and get prepared and get a chance to know the guys. Something has got to be different here because it hasn't worked so you've got to get that winning attitude. You've got to get these guys believing they can do it, that Derrek Lee is going to win the MVP, that Ryan Dempster can win 20 games. That's what it's about."

After losing out on the Milton Bradley gamble last season, the Cubs have added several players regarded as high-character guys such as outfielders Marlon Byrd and Xavier Nady and pitcher Carlos Silva. Add Millar to the list -- if he makes the team. He will compete with another free-agent addition, left-handed hitting Chad Tracy, and holdover Micah Hoffpauir for a spot on the bench.

"[Cubs general manager] Jim [Hendry] knows what I can bring to a clubhouse, what I can bring to a team other than being a right-handed guy off the bench or whatever he needs me to be," said Millar, 38, who spent last season with the Toronto Blue Jays, batting .223 with seven home runs and 29 runs batted in. "I think that's the biggest problem that the Cubs have had to be honest with you. People ask me all the time, 'Is team chemistry overrated?' Well, you tell me. You're with 25 guys more than your family from basically end of February to October. That's not overrated.

"When you go out to eat you want to have 12, 15 guys there. When you barbecue you want everyone included. ....You try to bring a team and a group together. When you get everyone pulling on the same rope, it's exciting. When you win it's a lot of fun."

Millar likely will have to prove he can play some third base if he is going to make the Cubs. Despite playing third base in the minor leagues, Millar has only played 32 games there during his 12-year major league career.

"We're so in tune with stats and numbers and we forget that teams win championships, not players," Millar said. "My job is to go out there and only do what I can control and that's have a good spring training and hopefully have a good shot at making this club."