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Media getting on injured Bradley's nerves
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Staff

Milton Bradley

 

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Published: 4/23/2009 7:33 PM

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Thursday began with Cubs manager Lou Piniella putting it all on right fielder Milton Bradley, saying he wouldn't put Bradley back in the starting lineup until he was 100 percent healthy.

It ended with Bradley taking Chicago reporters to task for allegedly trying to make him the center of controversy and attention, something he has a well-documented record of doing on his own throughout his big-league career.

This off-season, the Cubs signed him to a three-year, $30 million contract.

Things got so strange after the Cubs' 7-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds that Bradley called over the reporter for the Cubs' Web site, cubs.com, for a 1-on-1 interview out of earshot of the rest of the beat reporters.

Bradley seemed upset about a story last week in the Chicago Sun-Times that discussed the problems some black players have had with racism during their times with the Cubs. The 31-year-old outfielder, who has played for seven major-league teams since 2000, alluded to enjoying his time in the less-pressurized markets of Oakland and Texas while feeling that bigger markets such as Los Angeles and Chicago have tried to stir controversy.

The oft-injured Bradley strained his right groin on April 12 in Milwaukee. He didn't start until Wednesday night, when he struck out three times and grounded out, slowing on his way to first base.

"When I turn around and people are standing at my locker every time, I'm trying to figure out why because I've already told them I don't want to talk," Bradley told cubs.com. "That's the only thing - I never had a problem with the media until I started reading stuff that wasn't what I said.

"I never had a problem in my life until I started playing baseball. All of a sudden, there are all these things. I just want to be me. I just want to be that guy who plays baseball and enjoys his teammates and has a good time. That's what I do."

Between the injury and Wednesday, Bradley pinch hit twice, and on April 16, he was ejected from the game and subsequently suspended two games by Major League Baseball for allegedly making contact with umpire Larry Vanover. Bradley is appealing the suspension, with the backing of the Cubs.

Bradley walked into Piniella's office Thursday morning and told Piniella that his strained right groin still is not 100 percent.

Although many players take the field at less than 100 percent, an exasperated-sounding Piniella seemed to want an end to the uncertainty.

"Nothing's put me over the edge," Piniella said. "I don't play people unless they're totally healthy. That's been my M.O. throughout my managerial career. With Milton, when he's ready to play, we'll put him out there.

"I told him basically that I'm going to take him out of the fourth hole when he gets back, and we'll put him back in the sixth hole, where he might be a little more comfortable. We'll go from there. When I get him out there, I expect him to run hard and play hard the way he always has."