Union may file Bradley grievance

Updated: September 22, 2009, 8:39 AM ET
By Jayson Stark | ESPN.com

The Major League Baseball Players Association is considering filing a grievance to challenge the Cubs' suspension of outfielder Milton Bradley, the union's general counsel, Michael Weiner, told ESPN.com Monday.

However, the Cubs have yet to issue a formal notice of the suspension to either Bradley, his agents or the union. Once that notice has been received, Weiner said the union would confer with Bradley and his agents, Seth and Sam Levinson, before deciding whether to proceed with the grievance.

Bradley hasn't yet been informed whether the suspension is with or without pay. He also hasn't been told the specific basis for the suspension.

Bradley
Bradley

Once those matters have been clarified, he might be able to challenge the suspension in several potential areas. One might be that the Cubs didn't have "just cause" to suspend him. A second could be a disagreement about the facts of the case. A third might be simply that the punishment was too severe, given those facts.

The Cubs suspended their volatile outfielder Sunday for the rest of the season, one day after he criticized the team in a newspaper interview.

Bradley was disciplined for conduct detrimental to the team. General manager Jim Hendry said he decided to send Bradley home after learning of the player's remarks in the (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald of Illinois. Bradley, scratched from Saturday's lineup with a sore left knee, was quoted as saying "you understand why they haven't won in 100 years here."

If a grievance is filed, it would be heard by Shyam Das, famous for reducing the suspension of Braves pitcher John Rocker in 2002, following a controversial article on Rocker by Sports Illustrated.

Although Bradley has not addressed the media since he was suspended, his mother said she spoke with him Sunday.

"Milton sounded fine," Charlena Rector told the Chicago Tribune from her home in Long Beach, Calif. "He was raised in a Christian home. He believes that God don't make mistakes. ... And if that door in Chicago closes for him, he thinks another one will open. It always does."

Saying that Bradley is finished speaking to the Chicago media, Rector reiterated her son's prior claims that he felt racism and hatred from fans.

"He told me he could feel the hatred from fans and he didn't have anything to do with them trading [Mark] DeRosa, but he got the abuse anyway," Rector said, according to the newspaper.

She would not offer specific examples of that abuse.

The Cubs, meanwhile, are trying to move past the latest distraction in a disappointing season.

"We're moving on from yesterday. I fully support Jim's actions and now it's time to look to the present and look ahead, not behind," manager Lou Piniella said. "Our [goal is] to finish up as strong as we can for the next 14 games, play some kids and take a look at them, and win as many games as we can. That's all that we can do."

The 31-year-old Bradley has two years remaining on a $30 million, three-year contract he signed with Chicago as a free agent last offseason.

"When you manage a baseball team what you want is the least distractions that you can possibly have," Piniella said. "You try to shy away from distractions. My job basically is to get guys to play and to play as well as possible and that's what I try to do."

Bradley has had a rough time with the Cubs, hitting .257 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs, and being booed by fans at Wrigley Field. In the newspaper story, he told a reporter there wasn't a "positive environment" in the organization and he could see why the Cubs haven't won a championship in 100 years.

The mood in the Cubs' clubhouse was jovial Monday before they played the Milwaukee Brewers. Players were measuring each other against a door frame to figure out their real heights instead of what's listed in the team's media guide.

Alfonso Soriano, who is out for the season after having arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, got a big welcome from his teammates when he came in after being away from the team the past few days.

Soriano said he didn't know the specifics about Bradley, but understands how tough the hometown fans can be.

"If they boo, that's because they want the team to do good. If you're doing good, they don't want to boo nobody. If you're doing bad, maybe they get frustrated and they boo. That's the way I see it," Soriano said. "The fans are great, but you have to play good. You have to play for them."

The oft-injured Bradley has a history of boorish behavior during 10 years in the majors with seven teams, but Brewers manager Ken Macha said Bradley was his best player in the playoffs with Oakland in 2006.

Macha recalled once having to push Bradley back to the dugout to keep from going after an umpire, but said he was thanked for his intervention about two weeks later.

"He's intense -- let me put it that way," Macha said. "He's got a tremendous desire to win."

Piniella said the worst part of the situation is the criticism Hendry has received for the signing.

"You don't do things because you don't think they're going to work, and you do your homework. Do they work out all the time? I don't think anybody's a miracle man where things can work out all the time," Piniella said. "The amazing thing is when things don't work you take more heat than when they work."

Chicago is in the middle of a 10-game road trip that includes three games in Milwaukee before a four-game trip to San Francisco.

Piniella said left-hander Ted Lilly would be pushed back until this weekend in favor of hard-throwing right-hander Jeff Samardzija and that Rich Harden, who was skipped Monday because of his high workload this season, may make the other weekend start against the Giants.

Senior writer Jayson Stark covers baseball for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Jayson Stark | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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