According to multiple reports from St. Louis on Sunday, the Cubs suspended Milton Bradley for the remainder of the 2009 campaign. Jim Hendry cited the comments Milton Bradley made to Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald on Saturday as the final straw and reason for the suspension.
“There have been a lot of issues that we’ve lived with during the year,” Hendry said Sunday, “but the last few days became too much for me to tolerate, to be honest with you. I’m not going to let our great fans become an excuse, I’m not going to tolerate not answering questions from the media respectfully. Whether you feel like talking or not, it’s part of our jobs. I’m not going to allow disrespect to other people in that locker room and uniformed personnel.” Hendry reacted after reading Bradley’s comments, in which he said the Cubs were “not a positive environment.”
“The only real negativity here is his own production,” Hendry said.
Several of Bradley’s teammates came to the support of their GM. Ryan Dempster said it was unfortunate and he brought it on himself. Aramis Ramirez added Jim Hendry made the right call and Derrek Lee said Bradley should apologize for his actions according to a report in the Tribune.
Tyler Colvin will be called up from Double-A Tennessee and added to the Cubs’ 40-man roster on Monday. Lou Piniella said during his pre-game show Sunday night that Tyler Colvin would be brought up and he is looking forward to getting him into the lineup. The Sun-Times reported Colvin will receive playing time and is expected to be in the starting lineup for the final two weeks of the season. On his pre-game show Sunday, Lou Piniella said Jim Hendry held a team meeting on Sunday afternoon and told the players Bradley had been sent home. Piniella added he fully supports Jim Hendry’s decision and said, “The Bradley thing is something that happened and we will move forward.”
Bruce Levine reported, “Bradley’s career with the Cubs remains in jeopardy, despite the two guaranteed years remaining on his contract.” Levine added “more than a couple of teams looked at Bradley’s backloaded contract” before the July 31 trade deadline.
According to a report in the Sun-Times, the Cubs received enough possible interest in Milton Bradley since July “they might be able to find him a new home” with likely eating a lot of the remaining two years on his contract.
“At the end of the day, he was provided a great opportunity to be part of a really great organization with a lot of really good guys,” Dempster said. “It just didn’t seem to make him happy- anything. Hopefully this is a little bit of a wake-up call for him and he’ll realize how good of a gig you have. It probably became one of those things where you start saying things that you’re putting the blame on everybody else.”
“Sometimes you’ve just got to look in the mirror and realize that maybe the biggest part of the problem is yourself and (not) wanting to be here and play every day, and (not) wanting to have some fun. It didn’t seem like he wanted to have some fun, even from spring training.”
“Hopefully this is something that can be good for his career and good for him as a person.”
“If you’re serious about wanting to continue your career- you don’t want to finish the season suspended,” he said. “My advice would be to talk to the people you need to talk to and maybe apologize if that’s what you need to do, or interpret what was going on for the situation that got you suspended.”
“I had no problems with Milton personally,” he said. “If he called me, I’d answer the phone. This is a different situation. I would let him reach out to me on this one. He’s suspended for the season. There’s not much I can do to help him on that one. I think if he needed to talk, I’d talk to him.”
Ramirez was surprised, but defended Hendry for making the right decision.
“I’ve never seen that before,” Ramirez said. “I’ve never seen a GM suspend a player for something he’s been doing or something he said in the paper. But Jim (Hendry) has a point. if you don’t want to be here, send him home.”
Ramirez said he never got to know Bradley and they rarely spoke. He disputed Bradley’s comment to the Daily Herald that there was constant “negativity” surrounding the organization.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “When you make the playoffs two years in a row, there’s no negativity here. I’ve been here since ’03 and we’ve been in the playoffs three times, so we’re doing pretty good.”
And as for the media negativity Bradley referred to?
“You’ve guys have got to do your job, and we have to do ours,” he said. “If you don’t want to talk to the media, don’t talk. But if you do something good or something bad, the media is going to be there.”
Piniella said he tried to be fair to Bradley and have a good relationship, but found out early that the best way to handle him was to give him his space.
“I read some of his comments, and I can tell you this,” Piniella said. “I’ve been here three years and I feel blessed that I’ve been able to spend three wonderul years here. What a great city. Wrigley Field- what a great place to play, and our fans are second to none. It’s been a really, really nice experience for me.”
“Last year, I don’t know how many times I heard from the media we had the best clubhouse in the league. And things don’t change that rapidly in a year. So Jim made the decision, and I support it.”
Reed Johnson, whom Bradley said gave him sound advice early in the season, appeared to have washed his hands of the outfielder. Johnson said it was a privilege to play at Wrigley Field, and most players understand that.
“You had guys like Eric Karros and Jason Kendall say if you play major league baseball over a long career, you should spend at least one year with the Chicago Cubs,” Johnson said. “All of us are really surprised that a player could come here and not have the time of his life…. In a way, I feel sorry for him. He can’t enjoy the same things the rest of us enjoy.”
Bradley told the Tribune in June he felt “isolated” in the clubhouse. Johnson, Dempster and others disputed that comment.
“From our standpoint, nobody was making an effort to isolate him from groups,” Johnson said. “For the most part, that was his choice.”