Results tagged ‘ Milton Bradley ’

Sent to Seattle

Thumbnail image for INSIDE THE IVY LOGO.jpgThe clubhouse at Fitch Park, the Cubs’ minor-league facility in Mesa, Ariz., is divided into two sections. Picture the letter “H”, where the legs make up the sections which are conjoined by a small corridor that features a multi-sink vanity and entrance to the showers.

While the architecture of the bathrooms was not important, what was important last year during spring training was that I found Milton Bradley in the furthest corner of one wing keeping to himself, listening to music in front of his locker.

He had been on edge with the media already, just a couple of weeks into spring camp. I had observed the only other teammate he talked to was the Rule 5 kid David Patton. But I approached Bradley nonetheless.

bradley.jpgIntroductions were civil and polite. As we continued talking, he did not seem at all to be the brash, angry, or curt person I expected. Rather, he came off with an intellectual aura about him, saying he loved to read and write poetry and that his favorite poet while growing up was Langston Hughes. He was an honor roll student and was actually offered several academic scholarships coming out of Long Beach Polytechnic (Calif.) High School in addition to the baseball scholarships.

 In all honesty, he reminded me of the actor Laurence Fishburne. There was an edge to him, but a smart edge.

Of course, there was also the Milton Bradley who teammates tell me isolated himself, made snippy comments in the batting cage and argued with umpires, earning him an ejection in his first at-bat at Wrigley Field. Unfortunately, it portended of things to come.

It was a tumultuous year in Chicago for Bradley. Like Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said today after he dealt the troubled outfielder to Seattle in exchange for right-hander Carlos Silva and cash, “Looking back, we all saw the player [Milton] could’ve been coming out of camp. But he got off to a bad start and the expectations were high. Once it went down that road, he just didn’t handle it very well.”

And when he tried to do something nice for the fans–like throw a ball into the stands –he didn’t realize it was two outs, and thus inspired their ire.

It was like there were two sides to Milton Bradley and Cubs fans had to do a double take to see which one had shown up each day.

Now he’s off to Seattle, the home of the Space Needle, grunge rock and coffee. But which Milton will show up–regular or decaf?

–Michael Huang

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Rud-ee! Rud-ee!

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for INSIDE THE IVY LOGO.jpgIt might not have been Rudy Ruetigger and Notre Dame football under the watchful eye of Touchdown Jesus, but Rudy Jaramillo might just be the patron saint of hitters.

After all, the man the Cubs welcomed as their new hitting coach at a press conference about an hour ago has resurrected the careers of many hitters or at the very least, helped some correct the sins in their swings.

“I’m a teacher first, a coach second,” said the former Texas Rangers hitting coach. “I love to see talent in players and watch them get better….My ability to build rapport with players is good and my communications skills are strong.

“But there has to be a mutual trust between the coach and the player,” Jaramillo added. “You still have to win them over. And when you tell a hitter something, it better work because it’s all about results.”                                                                                       photo by Kelsey Peters


And that is exactly what the Cubs are hoping Jaramillo will be able to do with a Cubs offense that finished 26th in the majors in 2009, scoring just 707 runs and hitting just .255.

“I think everyone in the game, from players to coaches to managers, put this man at the top of the field,” said Cubs general manager Jim Hendry. “There’s no higher standard for a major-league hitting coach than the one he set the last 15 years.

“It couldn’t have come at a better time; we know we had some offensive deficiencies with some outstanding players some of which Rudy has been fortunate to work with in the past,” Hendry added. “We’re excited to round out a great coaching staff, and I know Rudy’s ready to get to work.”

Jaramillo has shown a penchant to work wonders with reclamation projects similar to the Cardinals’ pitching coach Dave Duncan. With Texas, Jaramillo pulled career years out of Mark DeRosa, Milton Bradley and Gary Matthews Jr., not to mention one former Cubs slugger looking to hit a milestone.

“We got 94 RBIs and 22 home runs out of Sammy [Sosa],” Jaramillo said, referring to Sosa’s 2008 campaign with Texas during which he hit his 600th homer.  “And he didn’t even get 500 at-bats. So I was very happy to work with Sammy.”

More than anything, Jaramillo isn’t afraid to get into hitters’ faces to make them work harder. He will make sure these players put in their time in the cage, veteran or rookie. He will also make sure they are prepared at the plate, physically and mentally.

“Sometimes players get complacent,” Jaramillo said. “You have to reprogram those hitters. I will get them to believe in themselves.”

–Mike Huang

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So you had a bad day….

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for INSIDE THE IVY LOGO.jpg   It has been a rocky start for Cubs rightfielder Milton Bradley. Between a groin and calf injury as well as struggling at the plate, Bradley has certainly not begun his Cubs career the way he envisioned it.

On Friday, his struggles came to a head after he lost a ball in the sun in the seventh, then later in the eighth, after catching a fly ball, he threw it into the bleachers thinking there were three outs instead of two. He immediately knew what he had done, and put his hands on his head in remorse.

Milton Bradley flub.JPGObviously the batter was out, and a run scored on the sacrifice fly, but there was a runner on first who was awarded two bases when the ball went into the stands. However, there was no damage, as the runner was stranded on third at the end of the inning.

“I hadn’t seen that one before,” manager Lou PIniella said. “Do we need to go over math? One, two, three,” Piniella said. “I don’t know what else to say. I’m sure he’s somewhat embarrassed by it. I’ve never seen it before. The only thing we can do is go over how many outs there are. You’ve got to keep your head in the game. Outside of that, look, it didn’t cost us a run but it’s embarrassing to the person it happened to.”

To Bradley’s credit, he nearly made an outstanding diving catch earlier in the game and went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.

And afterward in the clubhouse, he faced the media and owned up.

“I caught it. I exhaled, and I was still seeing purple and green spots because I was looking into the sun,” Bradley said. “I sensed that something wasn’t right. My heart was in the right place, I tried to give a souvenir. It was messed up.”

And to the credit of Cubs fans, they tried to pick Bradley up. His very next at-bat, fans cheered him on as he worked a 3-2 count before lining out with a hard hit ball to left.

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” –Mahatma Gandhi

It was a nice gesture on the part of the fans.

–Mike Huang

Making an impact worthy of No. 42



041509 robinson scholars.jpg

“A life is not important except in its impact on other lives.” — Jackie Robinson

Yesterday, the Cubs’ community affairs department hosted four local Jackie Robinson Foundation scholars — (from left to right) Troy White of Northern Illinois University, Jasmyne McDonald of Northwestern University, and Artis Lewis and Lauryn Nwampka of the University of Chicago. They were an impressive bunch of students, all articulate and passionate about Robinson’s impact as well as active themselves in social causes.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for INSIDE THE IVY LOGO.jpgWhite even was drafted by the Indians, in the 48th round last summer, but instead decided to pursue a college education that might allow him to someday play professional baseball or bring an academy to inner-city youth. His scholarship is now sponsored by MLB and the Chicago Cubs.

And they all were thankful for the scholarships, networking and educational opportunities afforded to them by the organization, founded by Robinson’s widow, Rachel. All four scholars were honored on the field prior to yesterday’s game along with Derrek Lee, Milton Bradley and Joey Gathright.

_S8O2431BLOG.jpgRead the scholars’ own words on Jackie Robinson’s impact:

“It’s a game I love to play. [Robinson] talked a lot about life. There’s a lot more important things in life than just baseball. … In a way, he’s helped me be drafted. There are not many black athletes playing baseball. I feel a sense of pride to go out and play baseball and play it the best I can and conduct myself with dignity and pride off the field.” — Troy White


Jackie Robinson Day lineups

Today is Jackie Robinson Day all over MLB, with all field personnel commemorating the 62nd anniversary of the breaking of baseball’s color barrier. Every jersey number you see in a baseball game today will feature Robinson’s No. 42.

Here’s today’s lineup:

42 Soriano, LF
42 Theriot, SS
42 Fukudome, RF
42 Lee, 1B
42 Fontenot, 3B
42 Johnson, CF
42 Soto, C
42 Miles, 2B
42 Harden, RHP

They’re taking on former Cub Jason Marquis (1-0, 2.57 ERA).

Milton Bradley on his everyday uniform number, 21

“That’s the number they gave me in Rookie ball, so I just kind of stuck with it. You know, you can’t wear 42 anymore, so I always said, 21 is half of 42; if I can be half of the player, half of the person, Jackie Robinson was, then I will have been a success. That’s my motto.” (from January)

Very special guest singing the stretch

Actor Michael J. Fox will be singing the seventh-inning stretch today. Fox is promoting his new book “Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist,” in which he discusses his positive outlook while struggling with Parkinson’s disease.

Reports from camp

INSIDE THE IVY LOGO.jpgEasy-going. That’s been the adjective used over and over again as front office employees have returned from spring training.

There’s no controversy, no strife, nothing but healthy competition. Most positions are settled on this team, and it is clear what spots — like closer, fifth starter, backup infielder and backup catcher — are up for grabs. There’s a lot of focus and clarity. And our newcomers are fitting in well.

Playing a part right away

It was great to hear in particular about the new players’ enthusiasm for the team’s charitable efforts. Spring training is a time when our community relations department gets a lot of work done. The staff takes over a room at the Cubs training complex for a few days and fills it with all sorts of items to be signed. Many of these will be donated to organizations; others might be auctioned off to benefit Cubs Care, a fund of the McCormick Foundation. There are a lot of good causes that benefit from our staff and players taking the time to get exclusive items signed and then finding worthy efforts for them. You can find one example at the Cubs’ official charity auction site, where a Ryan Dempster autographed pitching rubber is currently posted.

Bradley running ST.jpgAnd the new guys couldn’t have been more helpful. Milton Bradley was especially willing and said that “For the right cause, I’m always happy to sign.”

As the Cubs’ premier off-season signing, there’s a lot of focus on Bradley. Today I wrote a small article for the souvenir program about his growth as a person and a player, something he talked at length about when he first signed with the team back in January. I came away with a great impression of his personality after meeting him face to face, that he knows he can’t change any past incidents but that he also won’t let them hamper his competitiveness as a teammate.

“I’m going to go out there, play hard, give it everything I’ve got to try to win every day,” Bradley said. “I’m going to feed off [the fans’] energy, and hopefully, for the years to come, there’s going to be a lot of positives, a lot of highs, and a lot of wins.”

He also stressed that he learned from previous years where he tried to be a home run hitter. Now, he is always focused on getting on base, not whether to hit the ball in the gap or over the fence. “I’ll hit home runs, but they’re going to come naturally,” he said.

Looking up

Miles Sandberg series.jpgAnd one of the great things about the team’s chemistry has been the mentorship.

New Cubs infielder Aaron Miles has been seeking legend and minor-league manager Ryne Sandberg out as a mentor to improve his infield defense.

“Ryno was talking about how he pivots, how you make the turn at second base,” Cubs photographer Steve Green told me. “Really cool stuff like that. [Miles has] been seeking out a lot of people.”

At the Cubs Convention, I saw Miles talking at length with Ernie Banks, joking around and asking about Wrigley Field. You can tell that Miles really appreciates what the Cubs stand for — the history, the fans, the drive to win now. For a guy like that, imagine having these resources on call anytime you needed them!

— Sean Ahmed

Vine Line EXTRA: Previewing the February issue

feb 09 VL cover.JPGThe February issue of Vine Line will start hitting mailboxes later this week, and it’s one of our most jam-packed off-season issues yet.

This month marks the annual Minor-League Prospectus, introducing 50 names from the Cubs farm system. It’s the most thorough coverage you’ll find on the next faces of the cubs. Based on interviews and surveys sent to every coach, scout and administrator in our minor-league operations, we provide information on the top players in the organization and rank the top players in various baseball categories.

Who is considered to have the best raw speed in the system? Outfielder Tony Campana. Who has the best footwork behind the plate? Welington Castillo. Who has the most power? You’ll have to read the February issue to find out.

This issue of Vine Line also provides the who, why and how on the team’s five big off-season acquisitions. Learn about why switch-hitting outfielder Milton Bradley was the last piece of the lineup puzzle this off-season.

TOC FEB 09.jpgAnd you can’t miss the exclusive coverage and photography of the Winter Classic — the first hockey game ever to be played at Wrigley Field. It’s a stunning sight with a centerspread you’ll want to hang on your wall. You can see more of what’s in this issue by clicking the thumbnail to the left.

We’re hard at work planning for the March issue of Vine Line. … Can you believe baseball season is just around the corner?

To subscribe to Vine Line and get an exclusive gift for subscribers brand new for 2009, order online or call 1-800-248-9467.

The feeling from the inside of a press conference

Ever wonder? Photo by David Durochik

1-8-09 MILTON BRADLEY PC0316.jpg

Welcome, Milton Bradley

Bradley_Milton.jpgThe 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.”