PHILADELPHIA -- The days Lastings Milledge will spend in the big leagues in the immediate future appear numbered, though the number hasn't been determined. Barring injury to another outfielder, Milledge is likely to be returned to Triple-A Norfolk either when the disabled list assignment of Xavier Nady ends, or shortly thereafter.
No one said so in as many words, but manager Willie Randolph made two remarks on Wednesday that made it clear Milledge's tenure will not last into July. First, the manager noted that the resumption of Interleague Play and the use of the designated hitter rule won't necessarily prompt him to use Nady (if he is activated), Cliff Floyd (if he's healthy), Milledge and Carlos Beltran in the same lineup.
The manager had said he intends to use the DH rule to give Julio Franco some at-bats and veterans like Floyd, Beltran and/or Carlos Delgado partial days off.
More to the point, Randolph said, "We've accomplished what we wanted with him. He's helped us get through some injuries, and he's played well. But what we wanted was to expose him to what it's like up here, so when he comes back, it's not all 'wow' for him."
The manager has said several times that Milledge needs to play regularly. Activating Nady would make it difficult for Milledge to play every day. And Nady, Beltran and Floyd are going to play.
The X-man moveth: Having played in two extended Spring Training games in Port St. Lucie, Fla., Nady will join Norfork on Thursday. He could rejoin the big-league team early next week. Randolph wants to be certain his regular right fielder not only has recovered from the appendectomy he underwent on May 30, but that he is also in shape as well.
"This is different from a pulled muscle or a broken bone," Randolph said.
So what's the problem? Floyd again tested his still-sore left ankle and said it limited his mobility.
"I can't go back on a ball," he said. "So what? They're playing in Citizens Bank Park where the left fielder needs only to be able to turn and watch baseballs fly into the the seats."
"Trying to hit him was like trying to drink coffee with a fork." - Willie Stargell on Sandy Koufax