Bradley can refuse assignment to minor leagues

Updated: June 21, 2007, 11:23 PM ET
Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland Athletics designated outfielder Milton Bradley for assignment Thursday, cutting ties with a player who was expected to play an important role on the team this season.

Milton Bradley

Bradley

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Oakland Athletics

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2007 Season Stats
GM HR RBI R OBP AVG
19 2 7 6 .373 .292

The move was made to avoid a logjam in the outfield with the emergence of rookie Travis Buck and the return of other players from injuries.

Nick Swisher, Mark Kotsay, Jack Cust, Shannon Stewart and Buck are all competing for playing time in the outfield, and Chris Snelling and Bobby Kielty are expected to come off the disabled list soon.

"We ultimately were going to have a problem with all of our outfielders at some point," general manager Billy Beane said on a conference call. "Nobody was going to ultimately be happy. This is really as much as anything proactive instead of reactive to something that certainly was going to be there."

Bradley had been on the disabled list three times this year and was frustrated that the team waited two extra days to activate him this week because of uncertainty about third baseman Eric Chavez's health.

Asked Tuesday how he was feeling, Bradley curtly responded, "I'm healthy and on the bench." Bradley was activated from the DL the following day and went 0-for-3 with a walk.

The A's have 10 days to trade or release Bradley. Because he has more than three years of major-league service time, Bradley can refuse an assignment to the minor leagues.

"It's an unfortunate situation," said Bradley's agent, Sam Levinson. "Milton is healthy and looking forward to helping some club win many games this season."

In another move Thursday, the A's activated right-hander Rich Harden from the 15-day disabled list and optioned right-hander Shane Komine to Triple-A Sacramento.

Harden, who has been out since April 16 with a strained right shoulder, will initially pitch out of the bullpen as he tries to build up strength to eventually return to the rotation.

Bradley, who agreed to a one-year, $4 million deal with Oakland in the offseason, was first shelved from April 23 to May 10 with a strained left hamstring. He went on the DL a second time May 15-29 when the hamstring flared up again, before being sidelined a third time June 3 with a calf injury.

His missed 51 games in all with the injuries and has had five stints on the disabled list in two seasons with Oakland. He was hitting .292 with two homers and seven RBIs in 65 at-bats this season.

"Ultimately Milton sees himself as an everyday player and he probably is," Beane said. "This will give him an opportunity in his free agency to go out and play possibly every day."

The A's were counting on much more out of Bradley, especially since he had a strong postseason to cap his first year in Oakland. He hit .276 with 14 homers in 52 RBIs in 96 regular-season games before hitting three homers and driving in seven runs in seven postseason contests.

But Bradley has always been known as much for his volatile behavior as his baseball skills. In 2005, he accused Dodgers teammate Jeff Kent of a lack of leadership and an inability to deal with black players.

Bradley was also suspended for the final five games of the 2004 season when he slammed a plastic bottle at the feet of a fan in the box seats in the right field corner at Dodger Stadium after someone threw it on the field. Nobody was injured.

Bradley had two run-ins with police during traffic stops in Ohio, one that landed him a three-day stay in jail and another that nearly sent him back for a second visit. When he was with the Dodgers, police responded three times to Bradley's home on domestic violence calls, but he wasn't arrested or charged.

Oakland recalled infielder Kevin Melillo from Sacramento to take Bradley's place on the roster. Melillo was hitting .267 with seven homers and 40 RBIs for the River Cats.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press