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Cubs suspend Bradley for remainder of the season
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Staff

Milton Bradley


Jason Chiou | Staff Photographer

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Published: 9/20/2009 4:41 PM | Updated: 9/20/2009 9:00 PM

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ST. LOUIS - The most interesting reaction to the suspension of Milton Bradley by the Cubs came from the players.

To a man, they put the onus on Bradley.

"It's tough for a guy like me to understand," said outfielder Reed Johnson, whom Bradley once credited for keeping him focused to play. "I came from Toronto, and to come here, and just like fall in love with the city and fall in love with the organization. It's just hard for me to believe that you can come to this city and come to this organization and not enjoy your time here."

General manager Jim Hendry suspended Bradley, the Cubs right fielder, for the remainder of the season for conduct detrimental to the team.

The Cubs felt the situation built for much of the season, with various behavioral issues with Bradley. The final act played out Sunday, when the Cubs read comments by Bradley in the Daily Herald.

Bradley cited "negativity," surrounding the Cubs, including the fans, the media and even the organization. He also said, "And you understand why they haven't won in 100 years here, because it's negative."

Last Thursday, Bradley was short with reporters who wanted to ask him why it appeared he took himself out of a game. Bradley has an inflamed left knee, and he was a late lineup scratch Saturday because of it.

Hendry said he met with Bradley early Sunday in Bradley's hotel room. There is no word yet on whether Bradley will be paid during the suspension. He is in the first season of a three-year, $30 million contract, but Hendry will work furiously this off-season to trade him.

"Basically, there's been a lot of issues that we've all lived with during the year, but the last few days became too much for me to tolerate, to be honest with you," Hendry said in the dugout at Busch Stadium before Sunday's game.

"I'm certainly not going to let our great fans become an excuse. I'm not going to tolerate not being able answer questions from the media respectfully.

"I'm not going to allow disrespect to other people in that locker room and uniformed personnel. I'm certainly not going to let a player, as was mentioned in (the Daily Herald) article today, (talk) of negativity of the organization.

"I've been there 14 years, in charge for seven. We pride ourselves on treating our players right.

"I'm not into the negativity at all. It's not the way to lump your own problems on people. The only real negativity here is his own production."

Bradley ends the season batting .257 (.234 left-handed and .324 right-handed) with 12 home runs, 40 RBI and an on-base percentage of .378.

"It's unfortunate," pitcher Ryan Dempster said. "But at the end of the day, I think he was provided a great opportunity to come over here and be a part of a really great organization with a lot of really good players, and it just didn't seem to make him happy.

"Hopefully this is a little bit of a wake-up call for him (to) realize how good of a gig you have. It probably became one of those things you're putting the blame on everybody else.

"Sometimes you have to look in the mirror and realize maybe the biggest part of the problem is yourself and wanting to be here every day and wanting to have fun. It didn't seem like he wanted to have very much fun, from spring training."

First baseman Derrek Lee had reached out to Bradley earlier this year when Bradley had a run-in with manager Lou Piniella. Lee said Bradley would have to make the call this time.

"If a guy gets suspended, I'm sure he did something to deserve it," Lee said. "It's not something you see every day. I'm sure it's not an easy decision to make, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

"Milton's a quiet guy. I think he likes his privacy. There's really not much to say. The bottom line is that when things don't go your way, you still have to find a way to take positives out of it. I think a lot of frustration built up in him, and he didn't let it out the right way."

Piniella said he supported the decision. He has been disenchanted with Bradley's attitude most of the year.

"I read some of his comments," Piniella said. "I can tell you this, that I've been here three years and I feel blessed that I've been able to spend three wonderful years here in Chicago. What a great city. Wrigley Field, what a fun place to play. And our fans are second to none.

"Last year I don't know how many times I heard from the media that we had the best clubhouse in the league. Things don't change that rapidly in a year."