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Lastings impression

Future superstar playing outfield for the Syracuse Chiefs at least for now:

The last time Lastings Milledge played baseball in Syracuse was April 2006 when he wore a Norfolk Tides jersey. A few weeks later, having just turned 21, Milledge made his major-league debut patrolling right field for the New York Mets.

He appeared in 59 games in 2007 for the Mets before being traded to the Washington Nationals where he played most of the 2008 season, hitting 14 home runs and stealing 24 bases. Just seven games into the National League season, however, after batting an anemic .167 with a lone run-batted-in, Milledge was demoted to the Syracuse Chiefs.

Although often accused of being immature and possessing a less-than-positive attitude, the 24-year-old took the bad news professionally, vowing to work hard and get back on the track to the major-leagues.

"I'm trying to really find myself (here in Syracuse) and to get back to the way I was last year in the big leagues," he told a reporter. "I'm going to treat this like a rehab assignment." Though he admitted he was "disappointed" to be sent to the minors, Milledge took it philosophically.

"I realize baseball is more a business than anything else," he said.

Baseball's increasingly corporate mindset makes it tough for a colorful character such as Lastings Milledge to comfortably settle in.

During his first season in The Show, Milledge upset Mets manager Willie Randolph by high-fiving fans at Shea Stadium to celebrate his game-tying home run against the San Francisco Giants. Later that season, a veteran player taped a message to Milledge's locker: "Know your place, rook!"

In 2007, Milledge appeared on a rap recording called "Bend Ya Knees" by Manny D, a childhood friend from Florida. The song contained words such as "bitch" and "nigga," prompting the Mets to issue a disclaimer: "We disapprove of the content, language and message of this recording."

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