MLB: Mariners' Milton Bradley begins counseling
By Geoff Baker
The Seattle Times
SEATTLE — Milton Bradley began the new phase of his Mariners career on Thursday with an early afternoon counseling session.
A couple of hours later, Bradley, dressed in street clothes, showed up at Safeco Field and met behind closed doors with Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu. The outfielder left the ballpark soon after. When he returns remains up in the air. The Mariners placed him on their restricted list and called up outfielder Michael Saunders from AAA Tacoma.
The team won't take Bradley on the start of its next trip, meaning it could be at least eight days before he's ready to rejoin the club.
"We're not going to put a timetable on it," Wakamatsu said. "We're just happy that we're going down this road, getting him some help right now. And we wish him well."
Players on the restricted list must sit out a minimum of five days. That's still far fewer days than a trip to the 15-day disabled list, and gives the Mariners some options to bring Bradley back sooner if they feel he's ready.
General manager Jack Zduriencik said that time will come "when we're satisfied that he's mentally ready to resume playing and feels comfortable in his surroundings here."
That won't be when the team heads to Baltimore next Tuesday to begin a three-city trip. The next stop on that tour is Tampa Bay a week from Friday. The trip concludes with games in Oakland May 17 and 18.
Zduriencik said it's possible Bradley could rejoin the team during the trip.
"At this point we just don't know," he said. "It's still very early in the process, and we really don't know how it's going to go."
Bradley appealed to the team for help to deal with undisclosed personal issues after a Tuesday night incident in which he left Safeco Field in the seventh inning of a game against the Rays. Wakamatsu had just pulled Bradley from the contest after his second strikeout, and teammates say the outfielder reacted angrily and left the ballpark despite his manager's pleas to stay.
Bradley apologized the following day and—in a meeting with Wakamatsu and Zduriencik described as "emotional"—told them he was dealing with longtime personal issues and needed to get help. The Mariners have agreed to do that and are standing behind Bradley, one of their best hitters.
The loss of Bradley for at least a week or more comes at a time the Mariners are struggling to generate even minimal offense. Seattle has lost six in a row—all at home—and 10 of 12 after Thursday night's 8-0 loss to Tampa Bay.Saunders struggled in limited playing time with the Mariners last summer and was off to a horrible start at Tacoma before rebounding in his last five games. Over that stretch, he hit .444 with eight hits. Saunders could get more than just platoon action with Ryan Langerhans in left field if he shows the Mariners something.
"We're looking for somebody to get us some help in the outfield (and) pinch-running," Wakamatsu said. "We'll look as we go forward to see whether he's a guy we can give some playing time to. I think as you go in, you look at a kind of platoon system with him and Langerhans in left. But again, we'd like to see something out of Michael."