I'm really not sure what to make of this, and I want to try to be fair to Milton Bradley.
In yesterday's Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, writer Gil Lebreton said that Bradley, essentially, was jaking it at times last year:
"My agent was saying that Jon Daniels was telling him, 'There are days when he doesn’t want to play because of his health,’ " Bradley said.
"Well, you can get a healthy guy to go out there and play 162 games, but he won’t do what I did in 120."
As crudely self-serving as that sounds, Bradley is mostly right. His numbers last season were All-Star quality.
But that shouldn’t excuse the fact that Bradley was prone to sporadically calling in sick, including missing 10 of 11 games in early August as the Rangers lapsed from wild-card contenders to pretenders.
Plus, at the same time when Bradley was randomly removing himself from lineups, Michael Young was playing nearly every day despite having broken fingers on both hands.
Young never complained about Milton. That’s not Michael’s style. But his teammates certainly noticed.
When asked about that Sunday, Bradley gave an unsettling answer.
"If I’m being paid, and I’ve got the commitment to me that I give to them, you make more of an effort to be out there every day," he said.
So, in other words, you don't play hard or play hurt unless there's a financial commitment to you? In today's Sun-Times, Greg Couch quotes the Star-Telegram article, compares Bradley to Luol Deng, and gets a little more elaboration from Milton:
"If you're in a situation like I am now," Bradley said, talking about his three-year deal with the Cubs, "if they want me to go out there when I'm feeling a little banged up, I've got no problem doing that because they've made the commitment to me."
Well, that's nice. Bradley says he is willing to play hurt now. But just remember the foundations for his beliefs.
We like our athletes to play hurt because it shows commitment to team and town. We all go to work hurt or sick or just wanting more pay. But we go.
If Ben Gordon pulled himself out of Bulls games because he has minor injuries, and the Bulls haven't committed to him with the money and long-term contract he wants, then how would you feel about him?
That's what Bradley said he did last year. That's your new clubhouse leader?
Well. I really, really do want to like Milton Bradley and want him to contribute positively to the Cubs, both in the clubhouse and on the field. There is no doubt that when he is healthy and has his head screwed on straight, he is a major talent who can carry a team. All I can say to this is: let it not affect the way he produces beginning April 6.
Today, Rich Harden will make his first spring start. We'll also see Aaron Heilman, and possibly Ryan Dempster. For Seattle, Garrett Olson, who was a Cub for ten days in January -- not even enough time to down an Eli's cheesecake or two -- will get the start. There are no broadcasts of today's game, so we're all going to have to follow on MLB.com Gameday.
Discuss amongst yourselves.