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February 18, 2011 at 12:28 PM

Milton Bradley holds court with the media

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Milton Bradley spoke to the media as a group for the first time this morning. But not before making it clear to team officials beforehand that he wouldn’t do any talking about his legal troubles this winter, or the knee he had surgery on last fall.
The legal stuff, everyone expected. But the knee issues kind of threw folks for a loop since the Mariners last year kept attributing a lot of Bradley’s struggles to his knee problems.
Anyhow, you sometimes play the hand you’re dealt in this business, so we went about trying to figure out how Bradley is approaching this spring. What people mostly wanted to know was how he viewed this coming “contract” season and whether he feels it’s important to re-establish himself if he wants to continue playing beyond 2011.
“I always play like it’s my last game anyway,” he said. “Every pitch, every moment means the world to me, so I’m not going to take any different approach than that.”
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So, how is he viewing the coming battle for playing time? Michael Saunders is expected to get a shot in left field this spring, while the M’s seem prepared to use Jack Cust as a full-time DH — at least, to start things off. Bradley was asked whether he’s fired up about the pending competition.
“Not really,” he said in a clip you can listen to right here. “Nobody can compete with me when I’m Milton Bradley and I’m at my best. And they pay me a lot of money because I can play. So, I’m not really concerned about all that.”
NOTE: There has been some debate in the media room about the exact words Bradley used, so I’ve included the audio clip to allow you folks to figure it out. I switched a couple of words from the quote I originally put in there, adding “when” right before the “I’m Milton Bradley” and the word “and” to link that sentence with the next one. I’ve really just used the words to link what had been three separate sentences into one. Just trying to get it right. In the clip, he sort of blends the words together, but I think this version makes the most sense. I’ll be using it in the print edition of the story.

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Bradley said he’s had multiple conversations with new manager Eric Wedge both here and during the off-season.
“I’m glad he’s here,” Bradley said. “We needed the discipline. Somebody to put a foot in your behind when you need it. We just got a little lax with things the way they were going before and now he’s going to get it back on track the way it needs to be.”
Wedge said he expects Bradley will be able to contribute more than last season, given the arthroscopic surgery he had on his knee last August.
“The first thing I asked him was about his health,” Wedge said. “I wanted to make sure he feels good so he’s in a good place physically. We want to work hard to make sure we communicate with him to keep him there.
“So, I think a great deal of it has to do with the injuries. It’s a tough game. There’s just too much consistency when you look at good players. And when they have some down time, more times than not there’s some sort of injury involved with that.
“This game can kick your (butt) to the point where you can have a tough year, too, but a lot of times there is something behind it from a physical standpoint. It’s hard enough to play when you’re healthy, much less when you’re a little banged up.”
Wedge won’t place a favorite on the left field job. He told us he doesn’t think Saunders needs to prove he can play every day in spring training.
The team instead will see what stage Saunders is at and determine at that point how he can best help the team. Bradley will get a shot at the every day job in left, especially if he can return to the form he displayed during his last “contract” year in 2008.
“I think it’s safe to say that if he’s healthy, he can have the greatest impact out there for us,” Wedge said.
Bradley said he’s glad to be back in camp playing baseball.
“It feels good just to be around the guys,” he said. “Baseball is the easy part, I guess. Just being with the guys, having fun and enjoying it.”
Asked what part of his game he’d like to best improve, so that fans of Seattle can see what type of player he is, Bradley shrugged.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I’ve been playing 10 years. If you don’t know me by now, you ain’t never going to know me.”



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