Bradley could settle into cleanup spot
Wakamatsu wants contact hitters behind Ichiro, Figgins
PEORIA, Ariz. -- It isn't cast in stone just yet, but Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said he is leaning toward using switch-hitter Milton Bradley as the cleanup hitter."We're looking that way," Wakamatsu said Sunday during a morning session with the media. "I don't want to pin myself down, but I like [Casey] Kotchman in the three-hole against right-handers and we'll look at [Franklin] Gutierrez in there against lefties." Wakamatsu said he wants to have as many contact hitters behind Ichiro Suzuki and Chone Figgins as possible. "I like what the three spot can bring us," Wakamatsu said. "They give you good at-bats, see a lot of pitches and would move Ichi and Figgy. That's what I like and that's the way we are setting it up right now." Bradley batted cleanup in 19 games for the Cubs last season, going 10-for-56 (.179) with two home runs and five RBIs. His most productive spot in the lineup was second, where he batted .326 (30-for-92) with four home runs and 11 RBIs. In the past three years, however, he has a .307 batting average in 485 at-bats, 25 home runs and 85 RBIs.
Against right-handers, Ken Griffey Jr. would bat fifth in the designated-hitter role, with Mike Sweeney -- assuming he lands a spot on the 25-man roster as expected -- and Bradley handling the DH duties against most left-handers."Milton has some history of injuries and we've talked to him about occasionally being [the DH]," Wakamatsu said. "I would do that on occasion, give him some DH time, and that would give you the option of playing other people, which is important." Third baseman Jose Lopez, the team leader with 96 RBIs last season, would bat sixth most of the time. "The thing he has been so good at all spring is he is willing to do whatever he can for the club," Wakamatsu said. "I have hit him from third to sixth, and one thing he as much as anyone has is the ability to drive in runs. "He gives us a lot of flexibility and I trust to him to hit anywhere."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.