Rehabbing torn ACL, Bradley plans to play in Rangers' opener

Updated: December 18, 2007, 6:11 PM ET
Associated Press

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Milton Bradley insists that his recovery from knee surgery is going well and that he will be ready for the start of the season for the Texas Rangers.


"I'll be ready to play in some capacity," Bradley said Tuesday during a conference call, his first since agreeing last week to a one-year free-agent deal worth up to $8 million.

Bradley didn't elaborate when asked what he was doing now, and if he was running yet.

"I'm ahead of pace of the average person," the 29-year-old Bradley said. "I'm where I need to be. I'll be ready for the start of the season."

While the Rangers expect him to play right field, Bradley could start the season as their designated hitter.

Bradley tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and damaged cartilage when San Diego Padres manager Bud Black spun him to the ground while trying to keep him from going after umpire Mike Winters during a confrontation on Sept. 23.

Bradley hit .306 with 13 homers and 37 RBIs in 61 games with Oakland and San Diego. But he also had four stints on the disabled list (hamstring, oblique and calf muscle), and that didn't include the knee injury.

Since playing a career-high 141 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2004, Bradley hasn't played more than 96 games in a season. Bradley has been on the DL 12 times in his eight major league seasons, during which he has hit .273 with 81 homers and 322 RBIs in 691 games for Montreal, Cleveland, the Dodgers, Oakland and San Diego.

"With a full year, I think I can have great numbers," Bradley said.

Project his 2007 totals over a full 162-game schedule, and it comes out to 37 homers and 98 RBIs. Over the past three seasons, his full-season projections average 28 homers and 89 RBIs.

Bradley expects to still be doing rehabilitation when he reports to spring training in Arizona in mid-February.

"I will continue on pace to do what the doctors feel I'm ready for at that point," he said. "I will take it at whatever pace is necessary."

San Diego and Bradley, who has a history of losing his temper, claimed Winters baited the player into the confrontation and directed a profanity at him. Winters was suspended for the final five days of the regular season and didn't work the postseason.

Rangers manager Ron Washington, an assistant coach in Oakland when Bradley was there in 2006, said Bradley could also play center field and will take turns at DH even when he's healthy.

"He brings attitude. He brings commitment," Washington said. "He's not a rah-rah type of guy, but the way he plays the game will bring everybody else's level up."

Bradley said Washington being the manager was "a major factor" in him signing with Texas.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press