Seattle gets former Ranger Bradley from Cubs
By GREGG BELL, AP Sports Writer
SEATTLE (AP) — There are only two people from whom Milton Bradley has ever wanted to get an autograph.
He’s about to play with one of them.
“Some of the things that happen in your life and as a baseball player are kind of surreal to you. To play with Ken Griffey is one of those,” Bradley said of the Mariners star. “It’s an absolute blast for me.”
The mercurial outfielder is now Griffey’s newest teammate. Seattle acquired Bradley on Friday from the Chicago Cubs for expensive and underperforming pitcher Carlos Silva.
Chicago also received $9 million from the Mariners as part of the swap, which makes Seattle the eighth team of Bradley’s 10-year career. Silva has $25 million remaining on his contract and Bradley has $22 million left on his deal.
The dual dumping, which came together in 48 hours, got rid of headaches for each team — yet has the potential of creating new ones in each city.
That other person Bradley has always wanted an autograph from? It’s not general manager Jim Hendry, or anyone else associated with the Cubs.
Chicago has been wanting to trade Bradley since the Cubs suspended him for the final two weeks of last season, shortly after he criticized the atmosphere surrounding a team that hasn’t won a World Series since 1908.
“I have no interest in talking about Chicago,” Bradley said on a conference call. “I’ve moved on. I wish you would move on. And I wish the Chicago Cubs organization the best.”
Hendry said Friday he regrets signing the outfielder to a $30 million, three-year contract. Bradley hit .257 with 40 RBIs last season.
“I bear the responsibility for that not working out,” Hendry said during another conference call. “Obviously, in this case, it did not work out how we planned, which was also the reason I sent Milton home. (That’s) not going to be tolerated, to treat our fans, teammates and members of the media the way he did.
“It’s just time to put it behind us and move forward.”
Bradley’s reaction: “That’s Jim’s opinion.”
Seattle, which has never appeared in a World Series, didn’t expect to find a suitor for Silva. He has done little except lose and get hurt in the two seasons since he signed a $48 million, four-year contract.
Silva won five games in two years with the Mariners. They will now pay more to Chicago to shed the contract second-year Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik inherited from predecessor Bill Bavasi.
Zduriencik’s third splashy move in three days was to add more offense following his acquisition of ace Cliff Lee in a trade with Philadelphia and the signing of infielder Chone Figgins.
Bradley was suspended for one game last season after arguing with umpire Larry Vanover when he was called out on strikes with the bases loaded April 16. That was his first at-bat at Wrigley Field as a Cub.
In June, he got sent home by manager Lou Piniella during a game against the White Sox after he threw his helmet and attacked a water cooler following a popout. The Cubs finally decided they had enough in September, after he criticized the team in a suburban newspaper.
“Everything in sports and being a celebrity and what not is about getting a reputation and is about what dirt you can dish or what you can get on someone. The last couple weeks it’s become apparent that people aren’t necessarily the people that they are portrayed coming from the media,” Bradley said.
“(I) understand how PR works and media works. … how you’ve got to have a bad guy and you have to have a good guy. That’s just the way it is. I’m portrayed however I am. Just adds to the mystique, I guess.”
The Mariners repeatedly have proclaimed they want players of high character with good attitudes, citing Figgins as the latest example on Tuesday.
But they also wanted another bat.
“We were in search of a middle-of-the-lineup guy for quite some time,” Zduriencik said.
Seattle’s GM said he got nothing but good reports on Bradley — who also got that autograph he coveted from Barry Bonds — going back to his minor league career a decade ago.
Zduriencik specifically relied upon the input from two former coaches of Bradley: current Mariners bench coach Ty Van Burkleo, who was with Bradley in Oakland in 2007, and performance coach Steve Hecht, who had the outfielder in Texas in 2008.
The 31-year-old Bradley was an All-Star that year as a designated hitter with the Rangers. He led the AL in on-base percentage while batting a career high-tying .321 during a relatively event-free year. That was followed by the tumultuous season with the Cubs.
“It’s a new day, new way for this guy,” Zduriencik said.
He said Bradley will likely play left field and perhaps share designated hitter with Griffey on a team that last season went 85-77 following a 101-loss year, and that Seattle is “going to welcome him with open arms.”
The 30-year-old Silva missed most of the season with a bad pitching shoulder, after he had devoted himself to yoga and a better diet. He went from 285 pounds to 250, yet was 1-3 with an 8.60 ERA in eight games.
He was 5-18 with a 6.81 ERA in two seasons with Seattle after leaving Minnesota.
“I think this deal helps us in a lot of ways,” Hendry said of his Cubs. “Hopefully, Mr. Silva will get back to where he was a few years ago. He was a quality free agent when he left the Twins.”