Welcome, Milton Bradley
The Cubs front office and Chicago media just wrapped up the formal press conference and group interviews with chairman Crane Kenney, general manager Jim Hendry and new outfielder Milton Bradley.
As is the case when the ink finally dries on a deal, there were several new tidbits that came out of the press conference.
Milton emphasized several times that the Cubs were the only team to which he wanted to go. In fact, according to Hendry, the two parties first made contact on Nov. 5 or 6 over dinner. Both came away struck by the integrity of the other and the positive feel of the discussion.
After that, Hendry said he talked to “the people who count the most … the people you play with and the people you play for.” As he heard good thing after good thing — and he explored every other trade or free agency option out there — he decided on Milton as his main offensive target. It’s a testament to a lot of hard work, diligence, waiting and trust that this deal got done a full two months later.
Milton also teared up when asked about how rewarding it felt to get a long-term contract: “I try my best not to get emotional. I just remember — I didn’t call my mom because I wanted her to find out by watching TV, but she called and left me a message. And I played it back several times. You can hear her voice cracking on the message, and I just know, my mom worked 35 years as a grocery clerk … 35 years, and was able to retire a few years back. It’s just a tremendous blessing.”
On what kind of a hitter he considers himself: “My focus at the plate is just to try to get on base. A lot of people say they’re trying to get a hit or hit in the gap or whatever, I’m just trying to get on base. I’m going to try to make a pitcher throw me three strikes. If I get the first strike, and it’s a good one and that’s what I want, then I’ll hit that one. But for the most part I want to make the pitcher work, and I want to get a strike to hit.”
On what made the difference last year: “I just started seeing things I didn’t notice before. When I was with Cleveland years ago, [hitting coach] Eddie Murray always talked to me about approach and what to look for at the plate. He was pretty good at telling me what I needed to look for, and he was right every time.
“But time goes on, I went home to LA to play, I tried to do too much, tried to become a home run hitter, and that’s not really my game. I’ll hit home runs, but they’re going to come naturally. I got bigger and stronger and the home runs came, but I’m a line drive hitter, high on-base kind of guy. I just think working with [Texas hitting coach Rudy Jamarillo], he just brought it out. I still think there’s more there, as he would tell me. And this is just the time to flourish.”
On the cold: “I think I’m a .400 hitter in the cold. [Laughs]“