Millar greeted by cheers


BOSTON (AP) – Kevin Millar rolled down the street in a white Hummer, Big Papi behind the wheel, Creed on the sound system and memories of his years in Boston all around.

The Red Sox most valuable joker the past three seasons returned to Fenway Park on Friday night with the Baltimore Orioles. He even stopped by his old clubhouse, much quieter since the Red Sox chose not to bring him back.

“I heard him first,” Boston manager Terry Francona said, “and then I saw him.”

Millar didn’t want to leave the Red Sox.

But after he hit .272 with just nine homers and 50 RBIs as the starting first baseman last season, they decided his on-field weaknesses outweighed his clubhouse strengths.

He became a free agent and signed with Baltimore, although he remains close to some ex-teammates, including “Big Papi” David Ortiz, who picked him up at the Orioles’ hotel for the drive to the game.

Millar helped the Red Sox win a World Series for the first time in 86 years in 2004 and wasn’t shy about expressing his feelings toward the town and team he entertained.

“I’m not going to lie to you and say the right thing. I do miss it,” he said. “We did something very special with a very special organization. This was a family for three years. You live with these guys, you eat with these guys. Just to turn the page in one offseason and act cool and not talk and not care would be the correct thing to do.

“But that’s not me. So, yeah, I miss these guys. I miss Boston.”

Millar started at designated hitter and batted eighth Friday. He entered with a .205 batting average, two homers and 10 RBIs and returned to action last Wednesday after missing three games with a bruised right hand.

Millar was an average defender who is coming off his worst season with Boston. Yet he felt the fans respected his effort.

“I think the fans here in Boston appreciate the below average ability guys,” he said.

They showed their appreciation when Millar came to bat in the second inning.

He received a 30-second standing ovation and recognized it by touching the tip of his helmet.

Then he singled to left on the third pitch from Curt Schilling. That brought some boos.

With Millar and Damon gone, Ortiz is one of the remaining characters in the clubhouse.

“Millar always was involved in something,” Ortiz said. “A great person. My boy. There’s no way you’re being around Millar and you don’t have fun. He can come out with anything and you will laugh.”

The Orioles still aren’t used to Millar’s antics, whether it’s walking naked through the clubhouse or hurling good-natured insults with a huge smile.

“They kind of look at me like I’m cuckoo, but we have some fun over there,” he said.

For a short ride in a flashy vehicle Friday, it was like old times.

“Holy cow! Gangster. We were gangster. He picked me up in a white Hummer. We got Big Papi, we got a plasma in there,” Millar said.

“So you’ve got David Ortiz, big Latin guy, and he’s got Creed.”

Not exactly Latin sounds, but Ortiz knows the rock group is one of Millar’s favorites.

Ortiz’s explanation for the choice of music, according to Millar: “I do it for you. You know, every day I listen to this music.”

AP-ES-05-05-06 2110EDT