Cubs suspend Bradley for rest of 2009
The Cubs suspended their volatile outfielder for the rest of the season Sunday, one day after he criticized the team in a newspaper interview.
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Bradley was disciplined for conduct detrimental to the team. General manager Jim Hendry said he decided to send Bradley home after learning of the player's remarks in the (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald of Illinois. Bradley, scratched from Saturday's lineup with a sore left knee, was quoted as saying "you understand why they haven't won in 100 years here."
Bradley has two years remaining on a three-year, $30 million contract that he signed as a free agent last offseason. Hendry said he doesn't know if the relationship can be salvaged.
"Recently, it's become intolerable to hear Milton talk about our great fans the way he has," Hendry said. "We pride ourselves on having the greatest fans in baseball, so at this time we felt it was best to send him home for the rest of the season."
Cubs manager Lou Piniella agreed with Hendry's move.
"Jim made the decision and I support it," the manager said. "I really do."
Chicago signed the switch-hitting Bradley to provide balance in the lineup, but he struggled throughout his first season with Chicago, batting .257 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs. He was booed vigorously by home fans at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs, who haven't won the World Series since 1908, began the day eight games out of the NL wild-card spot with 15 to play. They were 11 games behind first-place St. Louis in the NL Central.
Mike and Mike in the Morning
ESPN the Magazine senior MLB writer Buster Olney takes Greeny and Golic through the Milton Bradley suspension and says he'll never play another game in a Cubs uniform.
Piniella said whether the 31-year-old Bradley is with the team next season will be entirely Hendry's call. He wasn't sure why Bradley was unhappy in Chicago and maintained he did his best to deal with a player who he quickly learned required plenty of space.
"I don't know what I could have done. I really don't," Piniella said. "I tried to make it as comfortable as I possibly could for Milton."
In the newspaper story, Bradley also was quoted as saying the team did not have a "positive environment." He said he didn't know if he'd be back next season.
"I need a stable, healthy, enjoyable environment," Bradley told the newspaper. "There's too many people everywhere in your face with a microphone asking the same questions repeatedly.
"Everything is just bashing you. It's just negativity."
Cubs outfielder Reed Johnson had trouble understanding why Bradley was so unhappy.
"I came from Toronto and come here and just like fall in love with the city and fall in love with the organization," Johnson said. "It's just hard for me to believe that you can come to this city, come to this organization, and not enjoy your time here."
Johnson didn't think Bradley had any reason to feel isolated from the rest of the team, saying "I think for the most part that was his choice."
Hendry was surprised to learn that Bradley wasn't enjoying Chicago after seeking a deal with the Cubs in the offseason.
"That's why it was so disconcerting to hear about negativity," Hendry said. "It's a great place to play. Great ballpark, great city, greatest fans in the world.
"That's just something that's intolerable to me, to blame the fans and the other things that were blamed."
Micah Hoffpauir played right field, Bradley's spot, for the third straight game in the finale of a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday night. Outfielder Tyler Colvin, a first-round draft pick in 2006, was recalled from Double-A Tennessee.
The oft-injured Bradley has a history of boorish behavior during 10 years in the majors with seven teams.
He was sent home by Piniella during a June game following an angry outburst in the dugout, and suspended for a game after arguing with umpire Larry Vanover when he was called out on strikes with the bases loaded April 16.
In 2004, Bradley was ordered to undergo anger management counseling while with the Dodgers after being suspended for charging a fan in the stands who had thrown a bottle near him. During the NL playoffs that year, he called a reporter an "Uncle Tom."Information from ESPNChicago.com's Bruce Levine and The Associated Press was used in this report.