ST. LOUIS — Milton Bradley's season is finished.
Perhaps his days with the Chicago Cubs are, too.
The Cubs suspended their volatile outfielder for the rest
of the season Sunday, one day after he criticized the team in a newspaper
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."
Bradley has two years remaining on a three-year, $30
million contract that he signed as a free agent last offseason. Hendry said he
doesn't know if the relationship can be salvaged.
"The last few days became too much for me to tolerate,"
Hendry said. "I just decided late last night that's what I was going to do, and
I didn't give it a lot of thought what's going to transpire moving forward."
Cubs manager Lou Piniella agreed with Hendry's move.
"Jim made the decision and I support it," the manager
said. "I really do."
Chicago signed the switch-hitting Bradley to provide
balance in the lineup, but he struggled throughout his first season with
Chicago, batting .257 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs. He was booed vigorously by
home fans at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs, who haven't won the World Series since 1908,
began the day eight games out of the NL wild-card spot with 15 to play. They
were 11 games behind first-place St. Louis in the NL Central.
Piniella said whether the 31-year-old Bradley is with
the team next season will be entirely Hendry's call. He wasn't sure why Bradley
was unhappy in Chicago, and maintained he did his best to deal with a player who
he quickly learned required plenty of space.
"I don't know what I could have done. I really don't,"
Piniella said. "I tried to make it as comfortable as I possibly could for
In the newspaper story, Bradley also was quoted as
saying the team did not have a "positive environment." He said he didn't know if
he'd be back next season.
"I need a stable, healthy, enjoyable environment,"
Bradley told the newspaper. "There's too many people everywhere in your face
with a microphone asking the same questions repeatedly.
"Everything is just bashing you. It's just negativity."
Cubs outfielder Reed Johnson had trouble understanding
why Bradley was so unhappy.
"I came from Toronto and come here and just like fall in
love with the city and fall in love with the organization," Johnson said. "It's
just hard for me to believe that you can come to this city, come to this
organization, and not enjoy your time here."
Johnson didn't think Bradley had any reason to feel
isolated from the rest of the team, saying, "I think for the most part that was
Hendry was surprised to learn that Bradley wasn't
enjoying Chicago after seeking a deal with the Cubs in the offseason.
"That's why it was so disconcerting to hear about
negativity," Hendry said. "It's a great place to play. Great ballpark, great
city, greatest fans in the world.
"That's just something that's intolerable to me, to
blame the fans and the other things that were blamed."
Micah Hoffpauir played right field, Bradley's spot, for
the third straight game in the finale of a three-game series against the St.
Louis Cardinals on Sunday night. Outfielder Tyler Colvin, a first-round draft
pick in 2006, was recalled from Double-A Tennessee.
The oft-injured Bradley has a history of boorish
behavior during 10 years in the majors with seven teams.
He was sent home by Piniella during a June game
following an angry outburst in the dugout, and suspended for a game after
arguing with umpire Larry Vanover when he was called out on strikes with the
bases loaded April 16.
In 2004, Bradley was ordered to undergo anger management
counseling while with the Dodgers after being suspended for charging a fan in
the stands who had thrown a bottle near him. During the NL playoffs that year,
he called a reporter an "Uncle Tom."
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