07/28/2012 8:00 AM
Olathe, Kan., native Gus Milner is back in a familiar place. After getting a degree in economics from the University of Kansas, he spent four years in the Philadelphia Phillies organization before moving to independent ball in 2010. He played two seasons with another American Association team, the Sioux Falls Pheasants. After being acquired by Kansas City this year, however, Milner is once again close to home, which he's enjoyed as Ashley Dunkak of TBonesbaseball.com found out in this interview.
TBonesbaseball.com: What has it been like to be back in your hometown?
Milner: It’s great to be able to play in front of family and friends. I don’t have to travel as far as I used to. Just getting to see everyone more often, especially my little brother who’s 12. I get to see him a little more than I’m used to, so it’s good.
TBonesbaseball.com: You were drafted after your junior year and after your senior year. What made you decide to wait to turn professional until after you finished school?
Milner: I guess I just wanted to go back for my senior year and finish my degree, and there was a bunch of great guys I got to hang out with and play with. I just had a great time playing college baseball at Kansas, so I figured one more year was not going to hurt.
TBonesbaseball.com: You played two years at Hutchinson Community College before finishing up at the University of Kansas. What differences did you notice between the two levels?
Milner: In junior college, obviously you don’t have as talented a group of guys. There’s some guys that have talent, but you see a big difference in the talent level and all that. Going to junior college was great because I got to basically live, eat and sleep baseball 24/7. There were really no rules. In Division I there’s a lot of rules, how many hours you can practice, stuff like that.
TBonesbaseball.com: What made you decide to major in economics?
Milner: Nothing really in particular. It was just more of me transferring from a junior college, and not all my credits transferred, so I wanted to graduate, and economics was a more feasible choice than other degrees.
TBonesbaseball.com: Manager Kenny Hook said that as an intelligent player, you sometimes think too much at the plate. How do you balance thinking about the pitches versus just going on instinct?
Milner: That’s a tough one. Thinking about the pitches is all I’ve been trying to do the past six years I’ve been playing, and I kind of just said, ‘You know what, it hasn’t been working so I might as well just have fun, relax, and try to see the ball, hit the ball and put the best swing on it possible.'
TBonesbaseball.com: What was it like facing your former teammates when Kansas City played Sioux Falls earlier this season?
Milner: It’s bittersweet because I have great memories with them the past two years. They’ve got players that are still left over from last year, and they’re all a bunch of great guys. Their manager and their coaching staff, I just had a great time with them the past two years, but me being a competitor, I just want to do as well as I can even though it’s some guys I made some friendships with that we’re playing against.
TBonesbaseball.com: When did you start playing baseball?
Milner: I’ve been playing since I was like 5 years old. I’ve just always enjoyed it. It’s something that I’ve always gravitated to. I played other sports, but I didn’t enjoy them as much as I always enjoyed baseball.