Latest incident is final straw
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- Milton Bradley might soon be someone else's center fielder -- and problem. The Cleveland Indians have apparently had enough of his antics.
The club is trying to trade Bradley, who was barred from Cleveland's training camp Thursday, one day after he was pulled from an exhibition game by manager Eric Wedge for not running out a pop fly that fell for a hit.
Indians general manager Mark Shapiro has discussed a trade involving Bradley with as many as eight teams, and "four or five are legitimate and serious."
Newspaper reports Saturday morning implied that the leading bidders could be the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets.
The Dodgers are believed willing, according to the Los Angeles Times, to use young pitching as bait to obtain Bradley, who grew up in Los Angeles. The Mets are said to be serious by the New York Daily News, which also notes that GM Jim Duquette has yet to receive permission to chase Bradley from an ownership that has stressed good citizenship.
Bradley was expected to start in the Indians' outfield and bat cleanup this season. But the 25-year-old outfielder, who has a troubled history on and off the field, will play elsewhere once the Indians can strike a deal.
"It's unfortunate where we are right now, but we have to do what's best for the ballclub," Wedge said.
Although the season opener is Monday, Shapiro said there is no timetable to make a trade. The Indians are at a disadvantage because teams know they want to make a deal, but having so many involved actually helps Cleveland, he said.
On Wednesday, Bradley was removed from a game against Houston in the third inning for not running hard on a second-inning popup that dropped for a single. Bradley was told quietly by Wedge that he needed to be on second base. Bradley responded, and while it was not a shouting match, the disrespect he showed for his manager in front of his teammates forced management's hand.
Bradley showered and dressed quickly after being pulled and took a 45-minute cab ride from Kissimmee to his rented spring training home. He came to Chain of Lakes Park on Thursday to retrieve his SUV and drove out of the Indians' training complex at 9:30 a.m.
Bradley's agent, Seth Levinson, said his client left camp with the "understanding and agreement of the front office" so the sides could weigh their options.
Bradley was pulled from a game last season for not running out a ball and having a verbal confrontation with Wedge in the dugout.
Shapiro would not characterize the most recent exchange between Bradley and Wedge. However, the GM said the club expects its players to display "passion, professionalism and respect."
"There is a line that they can't cross," Shapiro said. "You have to make sure that line is meaningful."
In addition to going on the disabled list four times in the past two seasons, Bradley has had other problems.
Last year, he had run-ins with Los Angeles catcher Paul Lo Duca and Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi. Bradley also threw his helmet and bat in the direction of plate umpire Bruce Froemming.
Bradley had baseball cards of Lo Duca and Giambi above his locker this spring.
In February, Bradley was sentenced to three days in jail for driving away from police after being stopped for speeding.
However, until his misstep for not hustling, Bradley had seemingly turned the corner on his troubled past.
He spent the winter in Cleveland working out and arrived in camp in great shape, promising to have a better attitude. The Indians seemed relieved by his turnaround, which is why both Wedge and Shapiro seemed so upset.
Bradley signed a $1.73 million, one-year contract in November with the Indians, who were counting on him to be a productive everyday player. He was having a solid 2003 season before hurting his back and missing the final six weeks.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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