Bradley took Hendry's words 'to heart'

Updated: May 24, 2010, 1:33 PM ET
ESPNChicago.com

Former Chicago Cubs outfielder Milton Bradley said he followed general manager Jim Hendry's call for self-examination as he tried to get help for dealing with pressure and anger issues.

"When Jim Hendry told me to look in the mirror, I did," Bradley told ESPN.com's Elizabeth Merrill. "That was a guy who gave me a big contract and instilled a lot of trust and belief in me. I never disrespected Jim, and things didn't work out. I know he had insurmountable pressure on him as well. He had to do what he had to do. When he said it, I just didn't blow it off. I took it to heart, and it weighed on me. And I'm doing what I've got to do."

Hendry traded Bradley to the Seattle Mariners for pitcher Carlos Silva and cash during the offseason one year into a three-year, $30 million contract.

During an interview with ESPN's Colleen Dominguez in March, Bradley described the atmosphere in Chicago as so negative that he felt like a prisoner in his own home because he didn't want to venture out. He also talked about the difficulties he perceived for African-American players in Chicago, unless they were the caliber of Ernie Banks or Andre Dawson.

Bradley also talked about receiving hate mail with no postage mark, and when asked if he thought it had come from within the organization, Bradley said: "I would hope not, but ... who knows? I don't know. I don't even care to know."

Those comments prompted what turned out to be apparently well-received words of advice from Hendry.

"That's absolutely ridiculous," Hendry said in March. "That couldn't be farther from the truth. I think it's time maybe Milton looked at himself in the mirror. It is what it is. He didn't swing the bat; he didn't get the job done. His production was the only negative, or lack of."

Bradley returned to the Mariners -- his eighth team in 11 seasons -- on Wednesday after missing 2½ weeks to undergo counseling.

Bradley, who batted .257 with 12 home runs and 40 RBIs with the Cubs, said he contemplated seeking help during his one tumultuous season in Chicago.

"I wanted to take some time out, get my thoughts together, and just speak to someone and get an understanding from somebody unbiased," Bradley told ESPN.com. "But you can't really do that in Chicago. There's just too much going on."

In his first extensive interview since seeking counseling earlier this month, Bradley told ESPN.com that the intense pressure he put on himself to perform led to thoughts of suicide, and that his breaking point came on the night of May 4, when he left Safeco Field before a 5-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays was in the books.

"That night when I kind of left here," Bradley says, "I didn't know where I was going or where I was at. I didn't know what was going to happen. I just wanted to do something right, you know? Just one time. Like when I hit that [game-winning] home run against the A's [in April] and I finally came through. You don't know how long I was searching for that last year. I just want to hold my own.

"A lot of responsibility has been thrust on me, and I just want to come through."

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