Indians had sent Bradley to minors

Updated: April 5, 2004, 9:37 AM ET
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- Desperate to score runs and willing to take a chance, the Los Angeles Dodgers got troubled outfielder Milton Bradley from the Cleveland Indians in a trade Sunday for a minor leaguer and a player to be named.

The deal capped a tumultuous week for the Indians' cleanup hitter. He was pulled from an exhibition game Wednesday by manager Eric Wedge for failing to run out a pop fly that dropped, barred from training camp the next day and later sent to the minors.

Bradley was expected to start in center field Monday when Los Angeles opened at home against San Diego.

"I think Milton's gotten a bad rap to this point," Dodgers general manager Paul DePodesta said. "I actually talked to him this morning and he said that this was the best thing he could have possibly hoped for."

Said Indians manager Eric Wedge: "It's disappointing it didn't work out here."

"We feel like we have to handle this thing appropriately and that's what we're trying to do," he said before an exhibition game against the Phillies.

The Dodgers, whose 574 runs were the fewest in the majors last season, sent outfielder Franklin Gutierrez to Cleveland. He was the Dodgers' minor league player of the year in 2003.

Bradley hit .321 with 10 homers and 56 RBI and stole a team-leading 17 bases. He did it while missing the final six weeks because of a lower back injury. In all, he was sidelined for 61 games because of injuries.

"I've been saying all along that I don't think the solution lies in just one player. But I think if anyone is close to doing that, if it's only one player, then it's probably this guy," DePodesta said.

"For me, he completely changes the face of our club. He's an above-average center fielder. He's also a No. 3 hitter in the lineup and he's 25," he said.

Along with going on the disabled list four times in two seasons, Bradley has had other problems. Last year, he had run-ins with Dodgers catcher Paul Lo Duca and Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi, and also threw his helmet and bat in the direction of plate umpire Bruce Froemming.

"I'm excited," Lo Duca said. "I mean, obviously everybody's going to make a big deal out of what happened with me and Milton last year, but it's behind us -- I apologized to him the next day. I just want to be his friend and his teammate and the guy's going to help us win.

"He can play. He's one of those guys that's under the radar, but he can hit, he's a good center fielder, he can flat out play," Lo Duca said.

Indians GM Mark Shapiro and Bradley talked Sunday and wished each other well. Shapiro said he did not ask for an apology, nor did Bradley offer one.

"The majority of his time here he was a good teammate and a good member of our organization," Shapiro said. "There were moments in time that he compromised the standards and expectations that we communicated to him, not one time, but a pattern of times."

Despite that reputation, Shapiro said 10 teams showed serious interest in Bradley.

Bradley grew up in Southern California and lives in the Los Angeles area during the offseason.

"He grew up a Dodger fan, he dreamed about playing in Dodger blue and I think it's going to be a great spot for him," DePodesta said. "I can't imagine a better fit for this club."

Bradley will join an outfield with Juan Encarnacion and leadoff hitter Dave Roberts.

Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said Shawn Green volunteered to move from right field to first base to give the Dodgers a chance to field their best lineup.

"He feels very strongly that if it gives the club a better shot in 2004, then he'll play first base. If Shawn wanted to play right field, he'd be playing right field," Tracy said.

"I've been saying all along that I don't think the solution lies in just one player. But I think if anyone is close to doing that, if it's only one player, then it's probably this guy," DePodesta said of Bradley.

"For me, he completely changes the face of our club. He's an above-average center fielder. He's also a No. 3 hitter in the lineup and he's 25," he said.

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.

"I think our lineup is certainly set back a little bit by him not being here," Cleveland outfielder Jody Gerut said. "I certainly would like to have him hitting behind me. It's something we're going to have to adjust to."

Minus Bradley, the Indians will probably platoon Coco Crisp and Alex Escobar in center field.

In February, Bradley was sentenced to three days in jail for driving away from police after being stopped for speeding. In 2001, Bradley was taken to a hospital by emergency medical workers after refusing to leave a restaurant because he was drunk.

He seemed to turn the corner until Wednesday. Bradley was removed from a game against Houston for not running hard on a second-inning popup that dropped for a single.

Gutierrez, 21, hit .282 with 20 homers and 68 RBI for Class A Vero Beach, and did well in a short stint with Double-A Jacksonville. He stole a total of 20 bases and made the roster of the 2004 All-Star Futures game.

Gutierrez is expected to start the season at Double-A Akron.

The Indians have until June 30 to decide on the other player.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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