Del N. Jones with Kevin Millar of the Boston Red Sox
1. BSF - How are you feeling right now at the plate?
KM - I feel great right now. The last week is probably the best that I have felt. I think that the big thing for me is that now I'm getting the chance to have our lineup back. It really helps out everybody. And I think with the additions of Nomar (Garciaparra) and Trot (Nixon) it makes us so much deeper. Now I can have a (Jason) Varitek or Nixon hitting behind me, which is basically pick your poison.
2. BSF - What has been your approach this year. Has it been any different from last year when you hit 25 home runs and knocked in 96 runs, both career highs in the majors?
KM - Early on I struggled. No doubt about it. The bottom line though - as bad as I have felt offensively I'm hitting (around) .270. Last year I hit .276. I'm on pace for 35 doubles, 40 doubles. Same thing last year. My home runs are down. My RBIs are down. So I know those are going to be fine. Early on I put a lot of pressure on myself, trying to do too much I think without the guys that we had in our lineup. And I realize that that is not the way to go about it. Now I'm going up there and having good atbats, seeing the pitches that I like to hit instead of first-pitch swinging, and that's the way I hit by setting the pitchers up.
3. BSF - Compare last year's clubhouse with the group of guys with the Red Sox this year.
KM - Early on, the feeling that we had last year is not that this year, but right now you're starting to get that feeling back because with our offense back no lead - when we get down or far behind - is big enough. Now with everybody coming back you're getting that vibe again. Now with the addition of (Curt) Schilling and (Keith) Foulke, this is the same lineup that broke all of those (team batting) records last year. We're the same guys. We just haven't been healthy. Now with the addition of Schilling and Foulke this team can be a championship team.
4. BSF - So far have you seen a difference between Terry Francona and Grady Little?
KM - I think Terry has had to battle a little bit, because of the injuries. I think he's had to mix and match and doesn't know how special this whole group is, and now I think now he's getting a taste of it. With three starters out as a manager that's tough, but I think Terry Francona has done a great job. I think Grady Little and him are very similar as human beings. They're good people. They care about their players. So we like playing hard for them, but I think with three starters out it's been tough for Terry. But now he's starting to get the feel of what Sox Nation is about.
5. BSF - Do you think that Terry has adjusted to the constant scrutiny of managing in Boston?
KM - Yeah, because he managed in Philadelphia. This guy is a lot like all of us. He lets things just kind of go. It's a long season. You're going to run into some stuff right now you know. I struggled the first couple months and had to deal with that stuff, but that's what it's all about. And I'm here at my locker every night when I'm doing bad or when I'm doing good, because that's what it's about. I know I haven't played well, but you know what? That's where big second halves make everybody forget about that or big hits in August make everybody forget about what happened in April and May, and I think that's what I'm looking forward to.
Q&A is a special Boston Sports Forum section that will be added periodically. All interviews are conducted by Del N. Jones and come from his personal dealings with athletes and other contributors.