Milledge having challenges in right field

Milledge having challenges in right field

CHICAGO -- It may not be reflected in his error total (one), but right field continues to be an adventure for Lastings Milledge. And lately, the adventure has been particularly ugly.

Milledge continues to take circuitous routes to balls way too often and has misjudged plenty. His misplay of a fly ball in Milwaukee on Friday led to a two-run triple. On Monday, he had trouble corralling Marlon Byrd's poke into short right field. That ball skipped past Milledge for an RBI double.

And those are only the most recent examples.

Milledge didn't arrive in Pittsburgh last season lauded as an above-average defender. But he didn't come labeled as an outfield liability, either -- which is why his growing list of gaffes is becoming a concern.

Manager John Russell pointed to Milledge's move from left field to right, a move made upon Jose Tabata's arrival, as the root of Milledge's struggles. Though it's been nearly three months since Milledge made that move to the other side of the field, he is having particular trouble reading balls off the bat.

"We're working him hard, hitting him balls during [batting practice], but he's having a hard time making the adjustment [from] left to right," Russell said. "A lot of times people think it's tougher to go from right to left, but he's not seeing the ball well. It's just getting that first step to be a little bit better."

Milledge continues to split time in right field with Ryan Doumit and, to a lesser extent, Delwyn Young. He is no shoo-in for a starting outfield job in 2011, which makes Milledge's ability to improve defensively imperative over the next month.