Originally created 04/02/04

Indians seek trade for Bradley



WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- Milton Bradley might soon be someone else's center fielder - and problem. The Cleveland Indians have apparently had enough of his antics.

The club is trying to trade Bradley, who was barred from Cleveland's training camp Thursday, one day after he was pulled from an exhibition game by manager Eric Wedge for not running out a pop fly.

Indians general manager Mark Shapiro has discussed a trade involving Bradley with as many as eight teams, and "four or five are legitimate and serious."

Bradley was expected to bat cleanup for the Indians this season. But the 25-year-old outfielder, who has a troubled history on and off the field, will play elsewhere once the Indians can strike a deal.

"It's unfortunate where we are right now, but we have to do what's best for the ballclub," Wedge said.

Although the season opener is Monday, Shapiro said there is no timetable to make a trade. The Indians are at a disadvantage because teams know they want to make a deal, but having so many involved actually helps Cleveland, he said.

With Bradley's expected trade, both Coco Crisp and Alex Escobar will probably make the Indians' 25-man opening day roster.

Wedge had planned to keep just one extra outfielder, and the speedy Crisp appeared to be on his way to Triple-A Buffalo to start the season.

"I have no idea what's going to happen now," said Crisp, who hit a two-run homer and crashed into the center-field wall while catching the game's final out in a 13-11 win over the Detroit Tigers on Thursday. "I think we both deserve to make the team."

On Wednesday, Bradley was removed from a game against Houston for not running hard on a second-inning popup that dropped for a single.

Bradley was taken out in the third, showered and dressed quickly and took a 45-minute cab ride from Kissimmee to his rented spring training home.

He came to Chain of Lakes Park on Wednesday to retrieve his SUV and drove out of the Indians' training complex at 9:30 a.m.

Asked if Bradley was told not to report, Wedge said, "Yeah."

Shapiro added that the decision to keep Bradley away from his teammates was made collectively by the organization. Bradley did not ask to be traded, Shapiro added.

Bradley's agent, Seth Levinson, said both sides had agreed to the separation to weigh their options.

"He left camp with the understanding and the agreement of the front office," Levinson said.

Bradley was pulled from a game last season for not running out a ball and having a verbal confrontation with Wedge in the dugout.

Shapiro would not characterize the most recent exchange between Bradley and Wedge. However, the GM said the club expects its players to display "passion, professionalism and respect."

"There is a line that they can't cross," Shapiro said. "You have to make sure that line is meaningful."

In addition to going on the disabled list four times in the past two seasons, Bradley has had other problems.

Last year, he had run-ins with Los Angeles catcher Paul Lo Duca and Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi. Bradley also threw his helmet and bat in the direction of plate umpire Bruce Froemming.

Bradley had baseball cards of Lo Duca and Giambi above his locker this spring.

In February, Bradley was sentenced to three days in jail for driving away from police after being stopped for speeding. In 2001, Bradley was taken to a hospital by emergency medical workers after refusing to leave a restaurant because he was drunk.

However, until his misstep for not hustling, Bradley had seemingly turned the corner on his troubled past.

He spent the winter in Cleveland working out and arrived in camp in great shape, promising to have a better attitude.

"I'm just going to play and that's it," Bradley said in early March. "The media always waits for the next thing I say. I got stuck with a label as a certain kind of guy - but that came from people who only see me three hours a day."

The Indians seemed relieved by his turnaround, which is why Wedge and Shapiro appeared so upset.

Bradley signed a $1.73 million, one-year contract in November with the Indians, who were counting on him to be a productive everyday player. He was having a solid 2003 season before hurting his back and missing the final six weeks.

The Indians acquired Bradley from Montreal in a 2001 trade for pitcher Zach Day.