Former MLB Star Kevin Millar Has Some Damn Fine Advice For Sports Dads

Former MLB Star Kevin Millar Has Some Damn Fine Advice For Sports Dads

For Kevin Millar, baseball has always been more than a game; it’s been a way of life. The former MLB player spent 12 years in the big leagues, playing first base for the Florida Marlins, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, and Toronto Blue Jays. In 2004, he was a key member of the Red Sox team that broke the franchise’s 86-year championship drought. After retiring in 2009, Millar went into broadcasting and, starting in 2011, has been the co-host of Intentional Talk, a year-round talk show on the MLB Network where he and his co-host Chris Rose give their expertise and insight into America’s pastime.

Millar has another job title, too: dad. The 46-year-old is currently raising four kids with his wife Jeana in Austin, Texas. Fatherly spoke with Millar about getting his kids into baseball, what he is teaching his sons, and why obnoxious parents continue to ruin Little League games.

Opening day is only a few weeks away. Do you get as excited about a new season now as you did when you were a player?

I definitely still get excited every year. Spring training rolls around, and our show jumps to an hour. You can just feel that baseball is coming. I love doing the show year-round, but there’s nothing quite like the build-up to the season. It’s a blast to look at rosters coming together and try to figure out which team is going to break out, or what young player is going to become a star.

Who are a few of the teams you’re excited about?

One team that I think is under the radar is the Chicago White Sox. They have a massive amount of young talent. And the trades that their GM Rick Hahn has made over the last few years have been impressive.

You have four kids. Are they baseball fans?

They love all kinds of sports. They remind me of myself when I was their age. They just want to get out there and play. It’s a blast. I was telling my wife this morning that we might need to take our kids out of sports because they are turning us into a taxi service. Truly, other than work, I feel like all I do is drive my kids to practice or games. Basketball. Football. Soccer. It never ends. Maybe we should be convincing them sports aren’t actually that cool? Focus on your studies more.

Do any of them root for specific MLB teams?

My two sons do. My 12-year-old son is a die-hard Red Sox and I don’t know why. He was born in April of 2005 so he wasn’t even alive for when I won the World Series with Boston. He loves the Sox and Patriots. He also likes the Celtics and I grew up a Lakers fan, so we have that rivalry, which is both fun and frustrating. My 11-year-old is a bit more a drifter. He’ll follow players instead of teams. Not afraid to root for a team for a season then forget about them the next season.

What would your advice be for dads hoping to get their kids into baseball?

Don’t ruin the fun for your kids. So many parents and coaches take the joy of the game out of it for their kids because they get way too focused on winning. I’ve seen so many little league dads who treat it like they’re managing the World Series. Don’t yell at your kid or freak out if they strike out. No kid likes to get yelled at. Let them enjoy the game because that’s what matters.

What has been your biggest parenting challenge?

It’s hard to always know what is right and what’s wrong. You can only make choices that you hope are right for your kids. There’s no perfect guidebook or pill that makes everything great. You can only do what you feel is right for your kids and your family. Different families have different issues, and there’s no one-size-fits-all for raising kids. And that’s always going to be a little bit frustrating.

How has becoming a dad changed you as a person?

Becoming a dad forced me to mature. You suddenly feel this love that you didn’t even realize you were capable of. For me, I realized that I needed to grow up and be responsible for my kids. It’s a game changer, it really is.

Focusing specifically on your sons, what are the lessons you are trying to teach them as they grow up?

The underlying message is always respect. It’s not easy and I’m not perfect but I am trying to teach my sons the importance of respect. Respect yourself and respect others. Treat other people the way that you want to be treated. It’s simple, but it’s something I want to make sure my boys understand. When my sons see kids getting bullied or laughed at, I want their first instinct to be to help and protect whoever is being bullied. It’s much easier to do the opposite and sit silently as someone is being treated terribly, but it’s wrong.

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Straight out of the Mexican league and into the Boston Red Sox

Straight out of the Mexican league and into the Boston Red Sox

Esteban Quiroz dives for a ground ball at the Red Sox spring training in Fort Myers, Florida. 

MEXICO CITY – Esteban Quiroz recalled the time he nervously approached one of his favorite baseball players. He asked Jose Altuve if he could stand next to him. Perhaps it was his way of sizing up the opponent.

It was a warm, humid March evening in Guadalajara, Mexico, before the host’s clash against Venezuela in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. The 5-foot-6 Altuve –the shortest player in baseball— laughed at Quiroz’s gesture, who seemingly turned out to be an inch taller. The second baseman for Team Mexico had been hitting well at the tournament, and thrilled by his encounter with Altuve, he smacked a three-run homer in his side’s 11-8 win over the favored Venezuelans.

“[Altuve] told me I hit with the power of a bigger player,” Quiroz said.

Quiroz would finish the WBC hitting .667 with two home runs, five RBIs and five runs in three games, before beginning play with the Mexican summer league’s Leones de Yucatan. Altuve would go on to win the AL MVP and the World Series.

A year after their encounter, Quiroz made it to the Boston Red Sox spring training camp in Florida. A non-roster invitee, he auditioned for a spot with the big club before he was cut from the major league roster on March 10, reassigned to minor league camp with Triple-A Pawtucket after hitting .158 with one home run and five RBIs. The Red Sox are looking at second basemen as they are without regular starter Dustin Pedroia until mid-May, at least.

“God willing, I’m giving it all out there and hoping for the best,” Quiroz said. “People talk a lot about adapting, the way I see it is, I have to perform, and it doesn’t matter where I’m playing, the Mexican league or the big leagues.”

Quiroz is often compared to Altuve as he demonstrates surprising power and similar physical makeup.

“I wasn’t sitting in the stands thinking about (comparing Quiroz to Altuve) but at the end of the day, you could say there are some similarities there,” said Marcus Cuellar, player personnel assistant for the Red Sox, and one of the men who initially scouted Quiroz in Mexico. “We’re hoping [Esteban] can build on his talent level and one day have a similar track record.”

Hailing from Ciudad Obregon (population: 405,000) in the northern Mexico state of Sonora, Quiroz found a familiar face at the Red Sox’s compound in Fort Myers. Pitcher Hector Velazquez was born and raised in the same Mexican town as Quiroz.

“I’ve known Hector for years. We came up through the same [youth] leagues,” Quiroz said.

Although Ciudad Obregon is a relatively small town, it has a penchant for producing major leaguers, seven to be exact, including New York Yankees pitcher Giovanny Gallegos and former outfielder Karim García, perhaps best known for his part in the infamous brawl in Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS between the Yankees and Red Sox. If Quiroz makes it eight, Ciudad Obregon will equal Tijuana as Mexico’s biggest producer of big league ballplayers.

“Maybe there’s something in the water out there,” said Cuellar. “When we found out they had some familiarity in the past, we asked Hector to show him the ropes.”

Velazquez, a 29-year-old right-hander, went 3-1 with a 2.92 ERA in eight appearances (three starts) for the Red Sox last season, splitting time between the majors and Triple-A Pawtucket. Quiroz says he has already leaned on the pitcher for advice this spring.

“It’s mostly the basic stuff: where the facilities are, how to get around, who to talk to for certain things,” Quiroz said.

Signed out of the Liga Mexicana de Béisbol prior to the 2017 season, Velazquez stresses consistency above all else.

“This is one of the best organizations in baseball. One of the most recognizable teams worldwide,” Velazquez said. “I’ve always been a hard worker, but you have to be more disciplined here, punctual. It’s all about attitude.”

So far this spring, Velazquez is 2-0 in four starts and is in line to win a spot in the rotation should regular starter Drew Pomeranz not be able to return from injury. For Cuellar, who scouted both Quiroz and Velazquez, attitude is a big part of why both players have a chance to become regular contributors.

“We want guys to have confidence and are willing to come in and prove themselves,” he said. “In their minds, they are ready to go. They want to step off the plane and go into Fenway Park on Day 1. We liked that about them.”

Whether Quiroz gets his day at Fenway, of course, depends in large part on whether he’s able to produce in the minors. Aside from his preferred position, Quiroz can also play shortstop or third base if called upon. So far, Quiroz has gained positive reviews for his performance and work ethic.

“His talent and track record warrants an opportunity to play in MLB,” said Cuellar.

Assuming all goes well for Quiroz, and he is called up, the second baseman is surely aware about May 31, the date for the first scheduled regular season meeting between the Red Sox and Altuve’s Astros.

“First, I have to find my way to get on the team and show everyone what I can offer,” Quiroz said. “Everybody had to start somewhere, even Altuve.”

Spring training roundup: Price pitches 4 scoreless innings in Red Sox debut

Spring training roundup: Price pitches 4 scoreless innings in Red Sox debut

The Associated Press

FORT MYERS, Fla. — David Price made his delayed spring-training debut for Boston, allowing one hit over four scoreless innings in a 7-5 win over Toronto on Thursday.

Price struck out five and walked one. An elbow injury limited to a career-low 11 starts last season.

“Felt good,” Price said. “I had really good fastball command early. I made good pitches when I needed to. I stayed away from the big part of the plate with the exception of a couple of fastballs. I thought it was a good day.”

Price was 6-3 with a 3.38 ERA last year. The 32-year-old left-hander is entering the third season of a $217 million, seven-year contract.

“This is March 15 and I’ve never had a four-pitch mix this early in spring training,” he said. “I’ve never been this far along even though I’ve only thrown in one game. I’m excited about it.”

Andrew Benintendi drove in two runs with a pair of doubles for the Red Sox, while Christian Vazquez hit his first home run — a two-run drive. Teoscar Hernandez had two hits and two RBIs for Toronto, while Steve Pearce had an RBI double and walked with the bases loaded.


Gary Sanchez hit a three-run homer and a two-run double for New York, while Aaron Judge had an RBI double and drew a bases-loaded walk. Sonny Gray made his third start for the Yankees, pitching three innings and giving up three runs — two earned — on two hits and three walks. Jose Osuna hit a two-run homer off Dellin Betances, and ex-Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli homered off Gray.


Baltimore right-hander Kevin Gausman made his third start, pitching five shutout innings and allowing two hits and a walk. Jack Flaherty, competing for a back-of-the-rotation spot, made his first start for St. Louis, pitching five innings and allowing one run — Jonathan Schoop’s fifth homer — on three hits and two walks while striking out eight.


Dallas Keuchel pitched five shutout innings for Houston, allowing four hits and a walk. Marwin Gonzalez and Josh Reddick both had two hits and two RBIs, while Alex Bregman had two hits and two walks, scoring twice. Washington closer Sean Doolittle pitched a scoreless seventh, allowing a hit and a walk.


Matt Harvey took the mound for New York, pitching five innings and allowing three runs, six hits and a walk. Harvey fanned eight, including his final five batters. Starter Dillon Peters gave up a hit and a walk, pitching two innings for Miami. Former Met Eric Campbell doubled in a run and scored for the Marlins. Amed Rosario had two hits and two RBIs for New York. The Mets used three straight bases-loaded walks to ignite a five-run ninth-inning rally that fell short when the tying run was thrown out at home.


Erick Aybar hit a two-run triple for Minnesota, while starter Kyle Gibson gave up one run on five hits, pitching five innings and striking out five. Nathan Eovaldi started for Tampa Bay, pitching 4 1/3 innings and surrendering three runs and six hits while striking out three. Denard Span hit his first spring double and scored for the Rays.


Mike Foltynewicz walked one in a start for Atlanta, pitching five shutout innings and striking out five. Ronald Acuna Jr. drove in a run when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and hit a two-run home run his next time up for the Braves. Mike Fiers was roughed up in a start for Detroit, pitching four innings and allowing five runs on four hits and three walks.


Mike Trout hit his first triple and homered for the second time this spring. Newly re-signed Carlos Gonzalez went 1 for 3 and scored a run in his spring debut for the Rockies. Andrelton Simmons returned to the Angels lineup after missing a week with a left-shoulder sprain and got a single and an RBI double for his first hits. DJ LeMahieu hit a grand slam to cap a five-run fourth inning for Colorado. Jefry Marte and Zack Cozart homered for Los Angeles, while Martin Maldonado connected for the second time. Roberto Baldoquin hit a two-out three-run home run for the Angels in the ninth in his first spring training at-bat.


Jason Heyward homered for the first time, a two-run shot off Robbie Ray, who gave up four hits and struck out four. Kyle Hendricks allowed one run and three hits in six innings while striking out seven. Nick Ahmed had an RBI double and prospects Ramon Flores and Christian Walker hit back-to-back solo homers with one out in the ninth.


Scott Schebler drove in three runs with a pair of doubles and is batting .519 for Cincinnati. Joey Votto added two hits for the Reds, driving in a run and scoring twice. Tyler Mahle, bidding for a spot in the Reds’ starting rotation, allowed two hits in five scoreless innings and lowered his ERA to 2.45. Francisco Lindor hit his fourth home run for Cleveland — a two-run shot — while Eric Haase hit a three-run inside-the-park homer.


Lucas Duda’s two-run single ignited a six-run first inning against Rich Hill, who retired just one batter and allowed seven hits. Prospect Ryan O’Hearn hit his second and third spring homers, driving in five runs for the Royals, while Frank Schwindel replaced O’Hearn and homered twice, driving in four runs. Alex Gordon went 0 for 3, striking out twice, and is batting .114. Corey Seager hit his first home run for the Dodgers, while Yasmani Grandal went deep for the fourth time.


Nomar Mazara and Ryan Rua hit solo home runs for Texas. Doug Fister allowed three hits in five scoreless innings. Eric Sogard hit his first home run for Milwaukee. Prospect Carlos Tocci stole his sixth base for Texas, while Delino DeShields swiped his fourth. Rangers closer Alex Claudio pitched a perfect seventh, striking out one.


Lucas Giolito went 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs and five hits for the win. He struck out four and walked none. Chicago leadoff man Leury Garcia had three hits and two RBIs.

Los Angeles starter Parker Bridwell was touched up for five runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings, raising his ERA to 9.22. Chris Carter hit his third home run of the spring.


Eric Hosmer, Chase Headley and Cory Spangenberg homered off San Francisco starter Jeff Samardzija, tagged for five runs, five hits and three walks in 3 2/3 innings. New shortstop Freddy Galvis had two hits and three RBIs for San Diego.

Brandon Belt hit his third home run this spring for the Giants. Hunter Pence had three hits, including a triple, and Andrew McCutchen went 2 for 4 with two RBIs.


Taylor Motter hit a grand slam and a double. Seattle starter Ariel Miranda gave up two runs and five hits with four strikeouts in four innings.

Paul Blackburn threw four shutout innings of two-hit relief for Oakland, striking out six. Matt Chapman doubled twice and drove in two runs.

2018 Red Sox top prospect voting: Yes, Hector Velazquez is a prospect

2018 Red Sox top prospect voting: Yes, Hector Velazquez is a prospect

We’re getting down towards the end of our top prospect list, and this time around we had an extremely close battle between two players with major-league experience and a couple of guys who figure to play key depth roles on the 2018 roster. In the end, we narrowly avoided our first tie of this exercise and Hector Velazquez squeaked out the victory and became our number 17 prospect in the system.

I’ll start by very quickly saying that yes, the 29-year-old Velazquez is indeed a prospect, though I understand the trepidation from some. While every outlet varies slightly, the basic definition of prospects around the ol’ interwebs has always been anyone eligible for the Rookie of the Year award, so that’s what we’re going with here. I see the arguments against it and it may be something I reconsider in the future, but also we’re talking about the number 17 prospect in a bad farm system, so. Ya know. Not the end of the world either way.

So, back to Velazquez the player. The right-handed just came over to the majors in 2017, but he’d been playing professionally for a while before that. He spent eight seasons pitching in the Mexican League, starting in his age-21 season. Over that time, he pitched to a 3.85 ERA with about seven strikeouts per nine innings and just about three walks per nine. He really started to come into his own at the end of his time there, though. In 2016, his last season in Mexico, he pitched in two leagues and all together he ended with a 2.41 ERA over 36 starts with 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings and just over one walk per nine. That was enough for the Red Sox to go out and make a way under-the-radar signing towards the end of last winter to bring Velazquez in as some potential depth.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Kansas City Royals

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Kansas City Royals

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

While the numbers in Mexico were impressive and the Red Sox presumably had some strong scouting reports that helped inform their decision to sign the righty in the first place, it was hard to be entirely certain of what to expect from Velazquez as he came over to the states. Unsurprisingly, the team started him in the minors in Triple-A Pawtucket. His time there wasn’t linear — he had a major-league stint in the middle — but overall Velazquez proved to be more than able to handle Triple-A opponents. In all, he made 19 starts in Pawtucket over 102 innings and he finished the year with a 2.21 ERA at the level with seven strikeouts per nine and just two walks per nine. That was enough for the relatively unknown pitcher to get some time in the majors, and he’d do well there as well. His first start was a disaster — he allowed six runs in five innings to the damn A’s — but after that things smoothed out. In his other seven outings, which spanned 19 23 innings, Velazquez allowed just two runs (0.92 ERA) with 15 strikeouts and five walks.

Scouting-wise, Velazquez isn’t anything special but we’ve seen that his package of tools can work at the major-league level even if it won’t blow anyone away. His stuff isn’t really great, but when he’s at his best the righty will hit his spots on a consistent basis and can live at the corners of the strike zone. That won’t necessarily lead to a ton of strikeouts, but he should be able to limit walks and induce some weak, frustrating contact. Velazquez does have a tendency to get in trouble at times and that can lead to implosions at the highest level, but he’s a skilled enough pitcher to serve as a back-end depth piece in the majors. As far as pitches go, he throws a low-90s fastball, a slider, a curveball and a changeup.

Looking ahead to the coming season, the expectation is for Velazquez to serve a similar role in 2018 as he did in 2017. He may start this campaign in Boston, but that’s because of the health of pitchers ahead of him on the depth chart, not his own merits and performance. Over the course of the year, he should see some time in Pawtucket and some time in Boston when the need arises. He’s not going to excite anyone when they see his name pencilled in as the days starter, but he showed in 2017 that he has the ability to serve as a dependable, solid back-end arm that can keep his lineup in games. That’s pretty good considering how low the expectations were when he was first signed just over a year ago.

Here’s our list so far:

  1. Jason Groome
  2. Michael Chavis
  3. Tanner Houck
  4. Bryan Mata
  5. Jalen Beeks
  6. Alex Scherff
  7. Sam Travis
  8. Mike Shawaryn
  9. Brian Johnson
  10. Josh Ockimey
  11. Cole Brannen
  12. Bobby Dalbec
  13. Darwinzon Hernandez
  14. C.J. Chatham
  15. Jake Thompson
  16. Roniel Raudes
  17. Hector Velazquez

Now, we move on to the eighteenth spot on our list. As always, head down into the comments and “rec” the comment corresponding the player for whom you’d like to vote. Make sure you’re a member of the blog before you do so of course. Additionally, if there is a player you’d like to vote for who is not listed, leave a comment of your own saying “Vote for Player X here”. That comment will count as his first vote. For more information on this system, scroll to the bottom of this post. Until next time…

Price pitches 4 scoreless innings in spring training debut

Price pitches 4 scoreless innings in spring training debut

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — David Price made his delayed spring-training debut for Boston, allowing one hit over four scoreless innings in a 7-5 win over Toronto on Thursday.

Price struck out five and walked one. An elbow injury limited to a career-low 11 starts last season.

“Felt good,” Price said. “I had really good fastball command early. I made good pitches when I needed to. I stayed away from the big part of the plate with the exception of a couple of fastballs. I thought it was a good day.

Price retired the side in order in the first. After Teoscar Hernandez singled and Jason Leblebijian walked starting the second, Reese McGuire sacrificed, Richard Urena was called out on strikes and Gift Ngoepe flied out. Price then retired the side in order in the third and fourth.

“He was great,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “From the dugout it looked like his misses were just by an inch. He was on target, good tempo, very impressive for his first outing in a real environment, not a controlled one. He was great. Physically he looks like he’s’ right where he has to be and now we’ll move forward.”

Price was 6-3 with a 3.38 ERA last year. He was to have pitched March 10 against Minnesota but was scratched when rain was forecast.

“It’s one thing to throw extended bullpens and throw against minor leaguers,” Price said, “but to throw against major leaguers and hear the national anthem play … to see a different color jersey gets the juices flowing.”

The 32-year-old left-hander is entering the third season of a $217 million, seven-year contract. He could opt out after this season.

“This is March 15 and I’ve never had a four-pitch mix this early in spring training,” he said. “I’ve never been this far along even though I’ve only thrown in one game. I’m excited about it.”


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Reds hire former Red Sox manager John Farrell as scout

Reds hire former Red Sox manager John Farrell as scout

GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) — The Cincinnati Reds hired former Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell as an internal scout who will evaluate players already in the system.

Farrell was fired by the Red Sox after they lost in the Division Series for the second straight year, falling to the Houston Astros. Buddy Bell, who was hired by Cincinnati as a vice president and adviser in the offseason, reached out to Farrell about the scouting role.

”We wanted to get a fresh pair of eyes on the players in our system,” manager Bryan Price said Thursday. ”He is a very good talent evaluator, especially with pitching. You have to understand your players better than any other organization.”

Farrell’s son Luke pitched for the Reds last season, including a game in Cincinnati against the Red Sox. Luke Farrell was claimed off waivers by the Chicago Cubs during the offseason.

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