‘Committed’ Bradley returns to M’s after 2 weeks
AP Sports Writer
SEATTLE – Milton Bradley’s hiatus from the Seattle Mariners is over.
His process of getting help to deal with what baseball’s self-described bad guy called “stressors, unpleasant thoughts and feelings I’ve been having” is not.
Bradley rejoined the Mariners on Wednesday after two weeks of counseling for personal issues and anger.
“I don’t have all the answers. I’m not saying I’m cured,” Bradley said in a clubhouse meeting room before Wednesday’s game against Toronto.
“I’m working ever so hard, and I’m committed to this process,” Bradley said.
The Mariners – his eighth team in 10 seasons – reinstated him from restricted list they had placed him on May 5.
That was a day after the man who in spring training called himself the Kanye West of baseball erupted when manager Don Wakamatsu removed him from a game following two strikeouts. Bradley was not in the clubhouse when he team returned after another loss during what’s been a miserable season so far.
The next day, the 32-year-old Bradley came to Wakamatsu and general manager Jack Zduriencik asking them to help him.
“I’m just going to focus on ball again. I’m glad to take this time to give you guys some foresight into what is going on, as much as I can,” Bradley said Wednesday.
Bradley is in the second year of a $30 million, three-year contract the Chicago Cubs gave him before one failed season with them in 2009.
This is not the first time Bradley has undergone anger management in baseball. The Dodgers ordered him to during his two-season stint with Los Angeles. That was after he got a five-game suspension for slamming a plastic bottle at the feet of a fan in the right-field seats at Dodger Stadium in 2004 after someone had thrown it on the field.
The sinking Mariners, desperate for run production, didn’t ease Bradley back. They had him playing left field and batting sixth against Blue Jays left-hander Brett Cecil.
Cecil was providing the first live pitching Bradley has seen since May 4 – a night Seattle and Bradley hope proves to be the pivotal one of his mercurial career.
Bradley got a warm, brief ovation from Wednesday night’s small crowd as he stepped to the plate for the first time, in the second inning. He tapped hellos to the plate umpire and Toronto catcher John Buck, fouled off a couple of two-strike pitches, then struck out swinging.
“I’m excited to be back and glad to be part of the team again,” Bradley said. “I’d like to thank the organization for their support, and for them allowing me this time to get myself together and get back on track and get some help for the stressors – things that I’ve been creating, the unpleasant thoughts and feelings I’ve been having and get better focus on the game I love.”
He particularly thanked Seattle’s fans for the “overwhelming” amount of mail and cards of support he said he’s received from them.
He said the city’s people have stopped him on the street to offer encouragement, a continuation of what he has said is the best and most supportive environment he’s been in during his newsmaking career.
A month ago, he flipped off heckling fans in Arlington, Texas, during a game against his former Rangers.
Seattle optioned reliever Sean White to Triple-A Tacoma to make roster room for Bradley, a 2008 All-Star with Texas.
Wakamatsu said he intends to play Bradley in left field against left-handed pitchers and at designated hitter against right-handers. That would further limit slumping, 40-year-old Ken Griffey Jr.’s playing time.
Griffey entered Wednesday batting .185 and without a home run in 92 at-bats this season. Including last season, he is four at-bats shy of the longest homerless drought of his career – 101 in 1990.