Mets option Milledge to Triple-A, activate Floyd

Updated: June 30, 2006, 10:44 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Wearing street clothes and a large, silver cross around his neck, Lastings Milledge took a seat next to Omar Minaya in the dugout as the New York Mets' general manager made an announcement Friday.

The team's prized prospect is headed back to the minors.

Lastings Milledge
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesMilledge showed glimpses of his undeniable potential but made plenty of rookie mistakes in his stay in the bigs.

"You sure you want to do that?" Milledge said with a smile, his arm wrapped around Minaya's shoulder.

"Can I change my mind here?" the GM joked.

Not right now.

Milledge was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on Friday after an eventful month of ups and downs in the major leagues. He figures to return to the NL East-leading Mets before the season is out -- unless he gets traded.

The move opened a roster spot for left fielder Cliff Floyd, who came off the 15-day disabled list and was in the starting lineup for the Subway Series opener at Yankee Stadium.

Called up May 30 from Norfolk when right fielder Xavier Nady had an appendectomy, Milledge batted .233 with three homers and 12 RBI in 86 at-bats for the Mets.

Throughout his month in the majors, he flashed all the impressive, raw tools that make him such an attractive prospect. But he also committed enough gaffes on and off the field to remind everybody that he's only 21 years old.

"Now I know how to handle myself when I'm struggling a little bit," Milledge said. "When I came up, I knew I was just a fill-in guy."

Milledge misplayed two fly balls right in front of Fenway Park's Green Monster this week and went 1-for-16 combined in Toronto and Boston during the first two legs of New York's road trip.

Still, the Mets said they were happy with how he handled himself all month, and pleased that he got a chance to experience major league life.

"I think it worked out perfect," Minaya said.

Milledge's first major league homer was a tying shot off San Francisco closer Armando Benitez with two outs in the ninth inning, sending the Shea Stadium crowd into a frenzy.

But he irked a few folks in the Giants' dugout -- and his own -- when he high-fived fans along the railing as he jogged out to right field after the inning. The game wasn't over yet, and some thought the premature celebration was a sign of immaturity.

Milledge threw out three baserunners from the outfield, displaying a strong, accurate arm. He also arrived late to the clubhouse before a day game in Philadelphia.

He used his speed on the bases and in the field, making a handful of nice catches. But he was reprimanded for not running hard all the way on a two-out double by teammate Julio Franco.

"There were some issues off the field that we would admit to, that he would admit to," Minaya said.

Milledge struggled on the field at times, too. Yet he also showed all kinds of potential.

"I like what I saw," manager Willie Randolph said. "His physical skills are there. ... He has assets that are very conducive to him being a top-notch player."

Floyd, who has struggled at the plate this season, had been out since June 7 with a sprained left ankle. "Good to have the big boy back," Randolph said. ... Nady missed his third consecutive start because of a sore right wrist -- where he was hit by a pitch recently. A CT scan Friday showed a small, non-displaced fracture, but Nady was told he can play through it as long as he can tolerate the pain. He is day to day. ... Mets 1B Carlos Delgado sat out for the second straight game with an ailing ribcage. "I'd rather take a day than take a week," Delgado said.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press