SEATTLE – Milton Bradley arrived in Seattle this winter distrusting the world.
Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu could see that. He knew Bradley was joining his eighth team in 10 years. He knew many people saw the slugger as baseball’s bad guy. And after suspensions and repeated run-ins with umpires and his own teams, Bradley believed he was fulfilling that bad-boy role.
Wakamatsu also knew he needed a cleanup hitter with power to boost an offense that was a liability for a team hoping to win an A.L. West title.
So the manager approached Bradley in February on his first day in spring training to set ground rules.
“Milton, I told him from Day One there has to be some kind of trust factor,” Wakamatsu said.
“He was a little like, ‘I heard that before.’ ”
But after two weeks away for emotional counseling set up by the Mariners, Bradley said the team has been more supportive, accommodating and patient than any of his seven other clubs. He’s finally trusting his employers.
Just as important for the Mariners, his bat is getting well, too.
“My mind is clear,” Bradley said. “It’s been a while.”
Tuesday, he hit the go-ahead single in the eighth inning against Detroit. Then he ran from first base into the dugout during a pitching change. His surprised teammates gave him high-fives and back slaps. Bradley then ran back to first base to complete the first in-game dugout celebration from a guy still on the base paths that Wakamatsu or any other Mariner had ever seen.
“The way I was feeling, I needed to share with my teammates,” Bradley said. “It was a good feeling. I came through.”
Since Bradley came back from two weeks on the restricted list, he is batting .296 entering today’s series opener at the Los Angeles Angels.