Mariners' Milton Bradley is happy for a fresh start — just don't call it that
Milton Bradley says he wants to have fun with the Mariners. His new teammate Ken Griffey Jr. says not to worry: "Oh, he will have fun. There's no other choice but to have fun."
Seattle Times staff reporter
PEORIA, Ariz. — Milton Bradley spent his first day with the Mariners as a walking, talking cliché.
At least, by his own definition, since he said shortly after his Monday morning arrival that he doesn't believe in clichés like fresh starts for players coming to new teams, only in going about your business. But a fresh start is exactly what Bradley got as he walked into the clubhouse of his eighth major-league team in 10 years.
No one stared daggers at him from across the room, asked him about tantrums of the past, or about getting thrown off his last team in Chicago. Instead, the folks who knew him said nice things, he threw pleasantries around as well, and when that was done, Bradley grabbed a bat, headed to an indoor cage and ... started fresh.
"Primarily, which I've never said in the past ... I want to have fun," said Bradley, acquired from the Cubs in December for pitcher Carlos Silva. "In the past I've always just wanted to win. I didn't care whether I liked it or not. As long as I was winning, because that's all it's about for me. But at this point in my career, I want to enjoy it. I want to have fun. I've been fortunate enough to play on a lot of teams and have met a lot of guys. So, I've built some lasting relationships and that's definitely something I take to heart."
And Bradley admits he hasn't had much fun since playing for Texas in 2008.
"Texas, Oakland, San Diego," he said. 'It was a good little three-year stretch there where everything was fun."
Bradley was one of several position players to report to camp ahead of Tuesday's first full-squad workout. Casey Kotchman and Mike Sweeney arrived in the morning; Ichiro, Jose Lopez and Jack Wilson showed up for physicals in the afternoon.
Ichiro was greeted by Kotchman, who has the locker next to his, before heading in for his physical. The Japanese star said hello to reporters, but asked to wait until Tuesday before doing any interviews.
As for Bradley, he got a positive scouting report on manager Don Wakamatsu from former Texas teammate Josh Hamilton and also knows a handful of Mariners coaches and players from his prior stops.
Josh Bard, a nonroster catching invitee to camp, played with Bradley on the 2007 Padres team that nearly made the playoffs. The two also teamed together in a pair of separate stints with Cleveland.
"I have nothing but good things to say about him," Bard said. "He was great every time I was with him."
A key to Bradley fitting in with this Seattle squad will be the guy positioned in the locker just a few feet to his left. Ken Griffey Jr. is one of Bradley's baseball idols — along with Barry Bonds — and telephoned him shortly after the trade went down.
Griffey got an amused look on his face Monday when told of Bradley's comments about wanting more fun out of baseball.
"Oh, he will have fun," Griffey said. "There's no other choice but to have fun."
Griffey said he got to know Bradley a bit from playing against him and seeing him at baseball events over the years. He said he phoned him after the trade to offer any help he might need answering questions about the team and also made tentative plans — which later fell through — to meet up with him on a recent trip to Los Angeles.
"He's a very intense player and that's something we can't take away and will not take away from him," Griffey said. "He goes out there and plays hard and I think that's the thing. You really don't have too much to say to him other than writing his name in the lineup and letting him go."
Griffey said he'll have no problem saying something to Bradley — in private — if he sees him struggling at some aspect of his game. But he'll do it in a one-on-one setting, with a helpful intent and some humor weaved in.
He plans to hang out and talk with Bradley a bit these next few weeks to get to know him better. That type of approach — a fresh start, if you will — is something Bradley wouldn't mind having happen on a whole bunch of other fronts.
"I believe if people just let you be you and don't steer you in any certain direction, don't steer people's thoughts in any certain direction, then things will work out the way they're supposed to," Bradley said.
And so far, the Mariners are letting him do the steering, hoping he can find a landing spot somewhere other than rocky shores.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read his daily blog at www.seattletimes.com/Mariners
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