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Mariners support Bradley in time of need

Mariners support Bradley in time of need

SEATTLE -- The controversial and often-contentious world Milton Bradley lives in took a turn on Wednesday, when he asked the Mariners for help in dealing with unspecified personal issues.

The request came several hours after the 32-year-old switch-hitter angrily departed Safeco Field Tuesday night following his removal from the lineup during the Mariners' eventual 5-2 loss to the Rays.

The hot-tempered Bradley threw his bat and batting helmet as he went down the steps into the first-base dugout. He walked to the other end of the dugout and, according to one eyewitness, stormed into the clubhouse, changed from his uniform into his civilian clothes, and left the stadium while the game was still being played.

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Manager Don Wakamatsu, who mentioned the situation after the game but did not elaborate, said Wednesday that, "I just felt, because he was emotional at that time, the best thing [was to take him out of the game]. It wasn't Milton's decision to leave the game. He wanted to go back out."

The situation took a turn on Wednesday morning.

"I came in this morning and Don and I were sitting in a meeting and everybody was getting prepared for the Education Day today," general manager Jack Zduriencik said. "The phone rang and Milton called Don. They had a discussion for a period of time. Don got off the phone and Don and I talked about it. He said, 'Milton's on his way in and he'd like to talk to both of us face-to-face.'

"Milton came in, we sat down, and probably talked for 20, 25 minutes or so. We broke up and Milton went to his Education Day [appearance]. He came back and we talked another 10 or 15 minutes.

"In the meantime, I had a conversation with his representative and this is where we are at this time."

Though the specifics of the talks were not disclosed, Zduriencik said Bradley "expressed himself in a very professional manner."

"He's going through some things in his life right now that are very personal and emotional. He has asked us if we could be of assistance to him and if there is any way, as an organization, we can help him get through this period.

"We will do everything we can as an organization, help him receive the assistance he needs. We will do everything we can to help Milton."

Zduriencik did not say what kind of assistance would be made available to Bradley, who was not in the starting lineup for Wednesday night's game but was listed on the lineup card as a reserve.

Bradley spoke to the team before the game.

"It was compassion," Mike Sweeney said. "We all feel love for Milton Bradley in that locker room. We're going to support him and embrace him during this tough time he's going through. This definitely isn't the time for us to turn our back on Milton. His heart is golden, and as he deals with this internal pain and the issues he's going through, hopefully it'll be a blessing in disguise. Maybe he'll look back a month or a year from now and say, 'God, I'm thankful I hit rock bottom that May 4 night in Seattle.'"

In the meantime, it has not been determined when Bradley would return to action.

"At this moment in time, we are going to monitor that," Zduriencik said. "We'll address that in the next few days. We have reached out to have someone talk to him on a personal basis.

"We will join together, as I said, as a group to get through this. But as far as playing time, I think we will monitor that. He will be in uniform. We will see how that unfolds, but my guess is that he will need a few days."

The Mariners are the ninth Major League organization Bradley has been with since being selected by the Expos in the second round of the 1996 First-Year Player Draft.

He reached the big leagues for the first time in 2000, playing in 42 games, and was traded to the Indians on July 31, 2001. Bradley has been on the move ever since, playing for the Dodgers, Athletics, Padres, Rangers and Cubs.

The Mariners acquired Bradley from the Cubs on Dec. 18 in a one-for-one deal that sent right-hander Carlos Silva to the National League, a deal that traded one disgruntled player with a large contract for another.

Bradley, who had a history of run-ins with fans and teammates, was all smiles when he reported to Spring Training in Peoria, Ariz., saying he wanted to "have fun," ignore the past and help the Mariners reach the playoffs for the first time since 2001.

The organization thought that being around veterans Ken Griffey Jr. and Sweeney, who combined to make the Seattle clubhouse a fun place to be last season, would rub off on Bradley and he would be relaxed, have fun and produce the way he did for the Rangers (.321, 22 home runs and 77 RBIs) in '08.

But when Bradley consented to interviews, he invariably discussed his past, especially his only season with the Cubs, and called himself the "Kanye West" of baseball, the player fans most liked to dislike.

"I care about Milton," Wakamatsu said. "I care about him getting better. I care about having a productive player on this team. I think we're heading there.

"We've had several different conversations and he has been very emotional in that. You can tell when somebody is under stress how much he cares about his team by whether he performs or lets his team down."

His play on the field, meanwhile, has been sporadic.

As of Wednesday night, Bradley was batting .214 with two home runs and 12 RBIs.

He was not made available for comment and Zduriencik asked the media to allow Bradley to deal with his personal issues.

"I would ask that all of you for your courtesy in giving him his space during this period of time," he said. "I realize this is a story and I realize all of you would like to have more detailed information, but I think it's fair to ask to let Milton have his space, let him have a little time and at the proper time he will speak to all of you and explain his circumstances to you."

There are no plans to put Bradley on the disabled list or on bereavement leave. For the time being, he will be available to play, but not likely to do so for a few days.

"As a player, we know this guy is fiercely competitive," Zduriencik said. "It's unfortunate right now that he is dealing with some issues that have put him in a position where he doesn't think he can compete the way he can. But again, he is going to get through this and by the end of the day, what we're going to have here in a period of time is a player that has benefitted from our assistance, has benefitted from his asking for help.

"At the end of day this will be beneficial for everyone involved."

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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