12/18/09 7:44 PM EST
Bradley happy for fresh start in Seattle
Mariners prepared to embrace mercurial outfielder
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
They got one -- and a little bit more -- Friday when they traded with the Cubs for mercurial outfielder Milton Bradley, who carries a big bat and a bit of baggage, too.
The bottom line for Seattle is this: If Bradley can have a happy 2010 devoid of temper flare-ups, clubhouse strife and injury, the Mariners will likely get a steal of a deal for an All-Star-caliber player while ridding themselves of contract they were looking to unload by sending off starter Carlos Silva.
After run-ins with managers, umpires, fans and the media that led to problems in Cleveland, Los Angeles and in Chicago last year, when he was suspended for the last 15 games of the season, Bradley needs a fresh start.
In his first conversation with Seattle-area reporters via conference call Friday afternoon, Bradley insisted that he's not the type of guy to instigate problems.
"I'm the most simple, basic player you've got going," Bradley said. "I go about my business and you wouldn't even know I'm there. I'll observe first before really speaking out and opening up until I know people. I'm honest and loyal and I love to compete and win.
"It's pretty simple: If you treat me like a man and respect me for an individual and what I am, you won't have a problem."
According to Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik, that's what the Seattle front office, manager Don Wakamatsu and clubhouse leader Ken Griffey Jr. are prepared to do. If so, it could lead to a very productive year from the outfielder, who led the American League in on-base percentage and was an All-Star in 2008 while with the Texas Rangers and manager Ron Washington, whom Bradley raved about.
"That was about as tolerant as a manger-player relationship could be," Bradley said. "There were no issues. I felt like I could talk to him and he understood me and what he was going to get from me. I didn't have to wonder where I stood at any point. I already knew."
As for Griffey, Bradley said he can't wait to meet one of only two players -- Barry Bonds was the other -- he has asked for an autograph.
"Some of the things that happen to you in your life as a baseball player are kind of surreal, and getting to play with Ken Griffey Jr. is one of those," Bradley said.
"I'm just looking forward to [playing with Griffey]," he said. "He's had an outstanding, Hall of Fame, illustrious career. He's always conducted himself in a professional manner and represented the game well. And hopefully, those characteristics and qualities can rub off on me."
Bradley recalled an episode during his rookie year in Montreal in 2000 when he allowed a ball hit by Griffey, then with Cincinnati, to hit him "in my back pocket" for an error and that Griffey and Barry Larkin kidded him about it the next day.
"I've never been so glad to be made fun of," Bradley said.
And the Mariners are glad to take a chance that Wakamatsu can take after his former boss (the Mariners skipper was Washington's third-base coach in Texas in 2007) by establishing a good relationship with Bradley.
Seattle bench coach Ty Van Burkleo, who was with Oakland in 2006 when Bradley was there and reported no problems whatsoever with the outfielder, said Wakamatsu's demeanor should work just fine with Bradley.
"Wak's not the type of manager that's going to grab the ring on a guy's nose and pull him around," Van Burkleo said. "He's going to talk to you and communicate and find out where you're coming from. And I think players respond to that."
Meanwhile, Bradley said he's trying to put Chicago in the past and happy to have Seattle in his present and future.
"I just look forward to playing baseball again in a positive situation with a good group of guys," he said.
"It should be fun."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.