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Byrd on Bradley: 'He's a perfectionist'

Byrd on Bradley: 'He's a perfectionist'

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PEORIA, Ariz. -- Milton Bradley wasn't in the Seattle Mariners' lineup for Sunday's game against his former team, the Cubs, and when approached by Chicago reporters in the clubhouse, the outfielder declined to talk.

"No chance," Bradley said. "You guys ran me out of town."

Mariners manager Don Wakamastsu said on Sunday he had planned all along to give Bradley the day off after playing six innings on Saturday against the Dodgers.

"We took him out of the game [Saturday] because he was a little banged up with a collision the other day at home plate," Wakamatsu said. "Right now, we have a schedule with him that we are comfortable with. He will play [Monday], have an off-day, play against Texas [in Surprise, Ariz.], have a couple of days off, play Saturday and get an at-bat or two on Sunday.

"All spring, we have gone down this road where he said he has felt good," Wakamatsu said. "We feel pretty confident that he's getting the number of at-bats he needs and he will be fine."

Bradley and Marlon Byrd were teammates in Texas, and when Byrd signed with the Cubs, Bradley called to tell him to "do what I couldn't do there."

"He wanted to go to Chicago, this was his choice," Byrd said Sunday. "This is a great place to play and he didn't get a chance to enjoy his time here and the atmosphere. He knows the type of guy I am and he was like, 'Hey, start off slow, start off fast, whatever it is, just enjoy it.'"

One thing anyone who watches Bradley play will agree on is that he's an intense player and doesn't smile much. Byrd doesn't want him to change.

"I want him to be him," Byrd said. "In Texas, he didn't smile at all. He put up ungodly numbers. He has to go out there and be himself. That's the only thing he can do and that's the only way he can play. I want to see him do 162 [games], all out, because he has MVP material."

What drives Bradley?

"Being great," Byrd said. "He's a perfectionist. Sometimes when he doesn't reach that, he's very tough on himself. I think a lot of guys in baseball are like that."

And Bradley has a different personality with his teammates.

"He's a great teammate," Byrd said. "I had one year with him. Everybody knows how he was in Texas. We had a great time and no run-ins, no nothing. It can happen with him. With [Ken] Griffey and Chone Figgins and those guys over there in Seattle, he'll be fine."

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Obviously, there aren't many media people on Bradley's holiday card list.

"You have to approach Milton," Byrd said. "You have to make sure every single day you talk to him and ask him how he's doing. My locker was right next to him. Every game on the road, we were eating lunch. My relationship was a little different than everybody else's. As a teammate, as a guy, you have to go up to him every day, 'Hey, Milton, how are you doing?'"

The two haven't gotten together this spring at all because of the long drive from Mesa, where the Cubs train, to Peoria, but they'll see each other when the Cubs play the Mariners, June 22-24 in Seattle.

He didn't finish his first season with the Cubs last year, getting suspended for the final 15 games because of detrimental conduct. The Cubs traded him Dec. 18 to the Mariners for pitcher Carlos Silva, who will be in their rotation.

It's been an interesting spring for Bradley, now playing for his seventh team in the past nine years. Bradley was ejected twice in three Mariners spring games last week. The first came after he was called out on strikes and thought it was the third out. Umpire Dan Bellino thought Bradley was showing him up by taking off his batting gloves to play the field.

"I had a teammate last year who said if I ever change, he'd kick my [rear]," Bradley told the Associated Press last week. "So I'm not changing. Everybody is not going to love you, no matter how you treat other people, no matter what you say. [I] never say anything bad about anybody. Somebody is always going to have something bad to say about you."

The Mariners project Bradley as their cleanup hitter for the season.

"He got off to a little bit of a rocky start with the bat," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said of Bradley, who hit .118 in the first month of the season in 2009. "He's certainly very capable of being a productive fourth hitter. He's over there in Seattle and we wish him well."

Did Piniella think the Chicago media treated Bradley unfairly?

"I don't think the media was unfair to anybody," Piniella said. "The amazing thing about Milton is he played, he played a lot of ballgames. He played hard when he played. Offensively, he didn't do the things that Jim [Hendry, general manager] envisioned when we brought him over here. Look, he's a Mariner, we have Silva, we're happy with Silva, and let's hope both players have a positive impact on both teams."

What about Bradley's comment that he's the Kanye West of baseball?

"I thought it was interesting," Byrd said. "If that helps him, helps drive him, go ahead. He can be the Ron Artest, he can be the Kanye."

Does Bradley enjoy himself?

"You have to ask him that," Byrd said. "In Texas, 2008, he enjoyed himself."

That year, Bradley led the American League in on-base percentage and batted .321, which led to his three-year contract with the Cubs.

"It's not all bad with him," Byrd said. "I know the way he's perceived by a lot of fans is all bad but not at all. You weren't around him much. He has good days and bad days just like everyone else. The distance between those good days and bad days is what people see."

Carrie Muskat and Jim Street are reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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