Cubs suspend Bradley for rest of season

By Carrie Muskat
Updated: September 21, 2009

Milton Bradley

ST. LOUIS — Outfielder Milton Bradley’s tumultuous season in Chicago ended Sunday, when he was suspended for the final two weeks following comments he made in which he said the Cubs were “not a positive environment.”

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry met with Bradley in the outfielder’s hotel room on Sunday to give him the news.

“There have been a lot of issues that we’ve lived with during the year,” Hendry said Sunday, “but the last few days became too much for me to tolerate, to be honest with you. I’m not going to let our great fans become an excuse, I’m not going to tolerate not answering questions from the media respectfully. Whether you feel like talking or not, it’s part of our jobs. I’m not going to allow disrespect to other people in that locker room and uniformed personnel.

“The only real negativity here is his own production.”

Bradley’s comments were the last straw. In a one-on-one interview Saturday with the Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, Ill.), the outfielder was asked if he enjoyed his first season in Chicago.

“Not really,” he said. “It’s just not a positive environment. I need a stable, healthy, enjoyable environment.

There’s too many people everywhere in your face with a microphone asking the same questions repeatedly. Everyone is just bashing you. You go out there and play harder than anybody on the field and never get credit for it. It’s just negativity.

“And you understand why they haven’t won in 100 years here, because it’s negative. It’s what it is.”

Asked who he was talking about, Bradley said: “It’s everything. It’s everybody.”

The Cubs signed the switch-hitter because they wanted another left-handed bat, yet Bradley was hitting .231 this season from the left side and .257 overall, a significant drop from his .321 average last year with Texas. He has 12 homers and 40 RBIs in 393 at-bats. Jake Fox, called up during the year from Triple-A Iowa, has 52 RBIs in 73 games with the Cubs.

This is the first year of a three-year, $30 million deal with the Cubs. Bradley had pursued the team, telling Hendry after a dinner this past offseason, “I want to be a Chicago Cub if you want me.”

Any regrets?

“No, I made the decision,” Bradley told the Daily Herald. “It is what it is.”

Cubs manager Lou Piniella tried to work with the outfielder, going into the batting cages with him when the team was in Philadelphia in July.

“I support Jim’s decision entirely,” Piniella said Sunday. “I read some of [Bradley’s] comments. I can tell you this, 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.

“I know last year, I don’t know how many times I heard from the media we had the best clubhouse in the league. Things don’t change that rapidly in a year.”

Was Bradley tough to work with?

“My job as a manager is to handle people,” Piniella said. “With Milton, probably, the least you say, the better. I think I recognized that early on and I tried to adhere to that. I enjoy communicating with my players but I think with Milton, you give him his space.”

Bradley never seemed to be comfortable, and at one point this season, said he hoped games last only nine innings so he can get home as quickly as possible. Yet, he wanted to play for the Cubs.

“Most people do,” Hendry said. “That’s why it was disconcerting to hear about negativity.

“That’s intolerable for me [to hear him] blame the fans and the other things that were blamed,” Hendry said.

Bradley, 31, still has two years remaining on his contract, and Hendry said it was too soon to address whether the outfielder will be back. He was coming off a .321 season in 2008 with Texas in which he led the American League in on-base percentage and had been projected to slide into the middle of the order for the Cubs.

“We had a couple good years and we were 0-6 in the postseason and felt like we had to mix and match to get a little more left-handed,” Hendry said.

“Obviously, in this situation the numbers didn’t match up with what his production had been, and still may be down the road.”

Piniella is signed through 2010. Would he expect Bradley to be back?

“That’s up to Jim,” Piniella said. “That’s not really up to me. That’s going to be [Hendry’s] decision and his decision only.”