Milledge defends high-fiving fans after first homer

LOS ANGELES -- Mets rookie Lastings Milledge said Monday he doesn't regret high-fiving fans along the right-field railing at Shea Stadium after hitting his first major-league home run.

Milledge's two-out solo homer in the 10th inning of Sunday's game against the San Francisco Giants tied it at 6. As he jogged out to right field for the 11th, he slapped hands with dozens of fans leaning over the railing. The exuberance of the 21-year-old prospect drew some critical comments from some of his teammates and the Giants, who beat New York 7-6 in 12 innings.

Manager Willie Randolph told Milledge to tone it down a little bit and Milledge said it was a rookie mistake afterward. But Monday he said he didn't feel that way anymore.

"You know what? It happened, and if we could replay the game, I don't regret one thing I did," he said. "As far as showing up somebody, it might have looked like that. But I'm not here to show up anybody because I haven't put in enough time at the big-league level. So I have no right to show anybody up."

Milledge, the Mets' first-round pick in the 2003 draft, was promoted from Triple-A Norfolk when Xavier Nady was placed on the disabled list last Tuesday. He had his first multihit game on Sunday, going 3-for-4 in the Mets' loss.

Milledge said he just wanted the fans to enjoy the homer with him.

"It's becoming a big thing, but it's not like I shot somebody or something," he said before the Mets played the Dodgers on Monday. "I've already been put out there as a guy with baggage, so people are going to draw their own conclusions."

Milledge found an ally in Los Angeles in former Brooklyn Dodgers pitching great Don Newcombe, who suggested that everyone cut Milledge some slack. Newcombe said some of the guys he played with might have said something to Milledge about it, but now is different.

"The whole demeanor now is different from the way it used to be, so I surely wouldn't hold it against that young man," Newcombe said. "I know the kid was happy and he just wanted to make his presence felt, and you can't blame him for that."