Bradley says Kent in his own world, lacks leadership

Updated: August 24, 2005, 8:45 AM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Milton Bradley accused Los Angeles Dodgers teammate Jeff Kent of a lack of leadership and an inability to deal with black players.

Bradley's remarks before Tuesday's game against Colorado came only a couple of minutes after he said that the feud between the two that became public last weekend in Florida was a "dead issue."

"The problem is, he doesn't know how to deal with African-American people," Bradley said. "I think that's what's causing everything. It's a pattern of things that have been said -- things said off the cuff that I don't interpret as funny. It may be funny to him, but it's not funny to Milton Bradley. But I don't take offense to that because we all joke about race in here. Race is an issue with everything we do in here.

"Me being an African-American is the most important thing to me -- more important than baseball," said the 27-year-old center fielder, whose voice never went beyond his normal speaking level. "White people never want to see race -- with anything. But there's race involved in baseball. That's why there's less than 9 percent African-American representation in the game. I'm one of the few African-Americans that starts here."

Bradley did not like what Kent said to him after Bradley failed to score from first base on a double in Saturday's victory over the Marlins. Bradley initiated a 25-minute closed-door meeting with manager Jim Tracy after that game.

"I was told in spring training I was the team leader by Paul DePodesta. By Jim Tracy. By Frank McCourt," Bradley said of the Dodgers' general manager, manager and owner. "Growing up in LA, I know how to deal with all types of people, and I do it on an everyday basis. But some people don't deal with all different types of people every day, and therefore don't know how to handle situations when they arise."

Bradley accused the media of coming to his locker first Tuesday because he is black. Kent had not yet arrived at his locker.

"At no time am I going to let somebody question my hustle, my injury or question my motivation for playing," Bradley said. "I watch him on the field, and I follow in his footsteps and the things he does on the field. As far as off the field, he has no clue about leadership.

"If you're going to be the leader of the team, then the need to mingle with the team and associate with the team. I mean, you can't have your locker in the corner, put your headphones in and sit in the corner reading a motocross magazine. He's in his own world. Everybody else is in this world."

Bradley, who tweaked his sore left knee while trying to beat out a double play grounder in Monday's loss at Florida, was a late scratch Tuesday because of irritation in the patella tendon.

Kent, a former NL MVP who feuded with Barry Bonds in San Francisco, defended himself following Bradley's accusations.

"He can go ahead and say those types of things, and it comes from an incident that he still doesn't get. And that's a shame," Kent said. "If you think that I've got a problem with African-Americans, then go talk to Dusty Baker. Go talk to Dave Winfield, who took me under his wing. Go talk to Joe Carter -- all the guys that I idolized in this game and all the veteran players who taught me how to play this game.

"That's a shame, and I take offense to that. That's just absolutely pathetic if it comes from his mouth."


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press