Category archive: Milton Bradley

Spring Training Blog: Feb. 22

February, 22, 2010
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman says his toughest adjustment since defecting from Cuba has been getting used to the food and the language.

The Reds signed the hard-throwing lefty to a six-year, $30.25 million deal last month. He's getting a chance to make the starting rotation in spring training, though the Reds say they're going to be patient and not rush the 21-year-old.

The Reds will give Chapman a chance to win a spot in the rotation during spring training, but aren't pushing him. They're giving him as much time as he needs to get acclimated to the new culture and the major leagues.

"We really don't have a timetable, and I don't think it's good to have a timetable," Jocketty said. "I think we'll find out as we go along."

"We're just going to let him develop. You don't really know what he's capable of yet. You watch him on the mound and you can see the ability, but we don't know until he gets into a game and faces hitters if he's ready now or it's going to take some time."

Chapman said it was very difficult to leave his wife, daughter and the rest of his family behind when he defected.

"It was a very hard decision," Chapman said through translator and pitching coach Tony Fossas. "But in Cuba, they told me I had to be brave and make the move."

-- The Associated Press

The Toronto Blue Jays brought 37 pitchers to spring training, including 10 non-roster players invited to camp and two on the disabled list.

"We've got so many pitchers here we need names on their back," Jays manager Cito Gaston said Monday as the team began its first official spring training workout.

But the impact player may be the one who isn't here: Roy Halladay.

Toronto's former ace was traded to Philadelphia after last season for three minor leaguers -- catcher Travis d'Arnaud, first baseman Brett Wallace and pitcher Kyle Drabek, son of 13-year veteran pitcher and 1990 National League Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek. None is expected to make the Blue Jays' roster this season.

The principal candidates for the No. 1 spot in the rotation are left-hander Ricky Romero, 13-9 as a rookie last year, and right-hander Shaun Marcum, 24-17 in four seasons before sitting out 2009 following shoulder surgery.

"Who's my No. 1? Who's my No. 2?" Gaston said. "You talk about two guys. We hope their arms are OK but you don't know until they start pitching in competition."

-- The Associated Press


Carl Crawford wants to win -- and be paid.

Tampa Bay's three-time All-Star left fielder reported to spring training in Port Charlotte, Fla., and says he's focused on helping the Rays get back to the playoffs, not the prospect of becoming a free agent after the season.

Crawford is set to earn $10 million in the final season of a $33.5 million, six-year contract.

"I'm hoping for the best, like always. But right now, I really don't know," Crawford said, adding the "best" would reaching a deal that'll keep him in Tampa Bay. "I wish something good will come out of it, but at this point we really haven't done too much [negotiating] and I don't know when we will."

If the 28-year-old winds up on the open market, he's likely to command a much larger salary than the budget-conscious Rays can afford to pay.

The team's career leader in hits, runs, stolen bases, RBIs and games played says the situation could go either way.

-- The Associated Press

Baltimore Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts has a back problem, but expects to be OK for Opening Day.

Roberts has been diagnosed with a small herniated disk. He says he's on the right track in his preparation for the start of the season.

Roberts intends to do some light hitting Tuesday when the Orioles hold their first full-squad workout. He worked out in the weight room Monday after taking his physical.

He says he won't need surgery to repair the disk.

-- The Associated Press

Andy Pettitte gave some serious thought to going out as a champion last year.

It turns out the 37-year-old left-hander wasn't quite ready to retire, even after the New York Yankees won the World Series.

Pettitte opted to return this season after talking with his family, and he signed an $11.75 million, one-year contract in December.

Pettitte went 14-8 with a 4.16 ERA last season, throwing 194 2/3 innings, to help the Yankees win their first championship since 2000.

This year, he's part of a strong rotation that includes CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Javier Vazquez.

Pettitte has 192 wins with the Yankees, third on the franchise list. He is scheduled for his first spring training bullpen session on Tuesday.

-- The Associated Press

Ivan Rodriguez worked the Washington Nationals clubhouse like a savvy D.C. politician glad-handing at a fundraiser. He paused at every locker, shaking hands with new teammates, paying particular attention to the pitchers who will soon be throwing to him.

He warmly greeted veterans and rookies alike, some youngsters awed that a future Hall of Famer was introducing himself to them.

"Years ago, I was watching that guy on TV and now I'm playing on the same team," beamed fellow catcher Jesus Flores.

Rodriguez has been through this getting-to-know-you process before, and quickly bonding is an important part of assimilating into a new team culture. The 38-year-old might not be the offensive threat he once was, but the player known as "Pudge" wasn't really brought to Washington for his offense.

"My main job is defense behind the plate, to make the pitcher feel comfortable with me. ... That's my game," said Rodriguez, who signed a two-year, $6 million free-agent deal with the Nationals in December.

-- The Associated Press

There was a palpable feeling of relief in Marlins camp with ace Josh Johnson signed to a four-year deal, meaning there will be no negotiating during the season, and absolutely no chance that he will be traded should the team somehow be out of the race at the end of July.

"Huge," said Marlins catcher John Baker. "I would put him up against anyone."

Baker said that last year, Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano told him during a game, "I'm so glad he's not in our league."

Marlins pitcher Ricky Nolasco, who has terrific stuff, shook his head in amazement at a guy "who can throw 98 mph with that kind of control. Pitchers just can't do that."

Marlins coach Carlos Tosca, a former Blue Jays manager, said "even though their stuff is different, he reminds me in every way of Roy Halladay."

Johnson, despite his new contract, came to camp as the same guy he has always been: playful but serious, a leader in every way. The only difference is a new, really short haircut.

"[Pitcher] Rick VandenHurk cut it," Johnson said. "He wanted to do it. I don't care. A teammate cut my hair last year, also."

As for haircuts, Marlins left fielder Chris Coghlan, who made a trip to Iraq with a Marlins contingent in the offseason, allowed American soldiers there to cut his hair. They gave him a mohawk.

-- Tim Kurkjian, ESPN The Magazine

Minnesota Twins reliever Jose Mijares will be late to spring training.

Mijares was absent from Monday's first official workout for pitchers and catchers because of an unspecified issue at home in Venezuela. Disappointed manager Ron Gardenhire said Mijares is expected to arrive in Fort Myers on Tuesday or Wednesday.

The Twins didn't learn of the delay until Monday morning. Gardenhire says Mijares needs to be more accountable.

Mijares also missed the team's annual fan festival last month because of a visa problem. The 25-year-old left-hander had a 2.34 ERA in 71 appearances last season. The Twins have been concerned about his conditioning in the past.

"He knows the days you're supposed to be here. Everybody's here, except one guy. That should tell him a little bit about himself," Gardenhire said. "He's got to figure it out and do a better job. We've got plenty of people who want to pitch."

-- The Associated Press

Milton Bradley arrived at the Seattle Mariners' spring training complex Monday morning for his physical, proclaiming that he primarily wants to have fun playing.

Bradley, slated to play left field and share designated hitter duties with Ken Griffey, Jr., was thrilled to meet his new teammate. Griffey was the first Mariner to greet Bradley -- the pair's locker stalls are near each other -- and they briefly embraced.

The Mariners picked up Bradley in a December trade with the Chicago Cubs in search of a bat to insert into the middle of the lineup. They also assumed the character risks with Bradley, who is with his eighth team and has been at the center of several controversial incidents involving fans, the media and his own fits of frustration.

"It's all the same things," Bradley said of his conversations with every new team he joins before he arrives. "'Are you looking forward to this,' or 'it's a fresh start,' all that cliche stuff. But I don't believe in all that. I'm just, 'You go about your business.' I believe if people allow you to be you and don't steer you in any certain direction or don't steer people's thoughts in a certain direction, then things will work out the way they're supposed to."

-- The Associated Press

Brad Lidge has thrown 20 pitches off a mound, his first bullpen session since offseason surgeries on his elbow and knee.

Lidge says he felt no pain Monday and is concentrating on building up arm strength. It's far too early to know whether the closer will be ready when the NL champion Philadelphia Phillies open the season at Washington on April 5.

Lidge said last week he was two weeks behind schedule, but he's making progress.

"I'd say I'm right about the same," he said. "I feel I'm right ahead of that two weeks. With the bullpen today, I kind of stayed right there. I didn't come out and feel 100 percent. That being said, nothing hurts and I was able to use my body in the way I was hoping to this year without having any pain or side effects. It's all about building arm strength now and I'm going to have to do a lot of work to get that."

Pitching coach Rich Dubee says Lidge threw only fastballs and was encouraged by his first step.

-- The Associated Press

The Orioles traded for 35-year-old Kevin Millwood during the winter meetings because they wanted an experienced arm at the top of their rotation and a clubhouse leader who could lead the team's young pitching staff by example.

The role of mentor is a comfortable fit for Millwood, who went 13-10 with a 3.67 ERA in 2009, the last of his four seasons with the Texas Rangers, and has won 155 games in a 13-year major league career.

"I'm having a good time," he said. "These guys seem like they're willing to learn and want to get better. The most fun for me would be seeing these guys succeed."

Millwood can be vocal, but he's more likely to lead by example. Perhaps it comes from his exposure to star pitchers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz after breaking into the majors with the Atlanta Braves in 1997.

"It's just kind of the way that I am," he said. "I had a lot of guys who kind of showed me the way when I was young. I've just done that my whole career. I think that's the right way to do it."

-- The Associated Press

The San Francisco Giants had hoped infielder Pablo Sandoval -- also known as "Kung Fu Panda" for his generous physique -- would make strides along with his teammates in slimming down this offseason.

"Operation Panda," the diet and exercise regimen put in place by head trainer Dave Groeschner, has resulted in several slightly smaller Giants. But Sandoval, the project's namesake, has not yet reached his desired weight, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

"He's still a work in progress," Groeschner said of Sandoval on Sunday, according to the report. "He's working hard, and he's still working to slim down. We're trying to stay on top of this because he's not where we wanted him yet."

Sandoval, who's reportedly aiming at 250 pounds as his target weight, dropped 12 pounds during offseason workouts at the team's spring training facility in Arizona. But that progress stalled while he was playing winter ball in Venezuela.

"He didn't have a huge setback [in Venezuela], but he didn't have an advancement," Groeschner said, according to the report.

-- news services


February, 28, 2009
Braden Looper's spring has been slowed by a sneeze.

MLB News And Notes

The Milwaukee right-hander was scratched from his Cactus League debut after feeling tightness in his left oblique muscle near the end of his bullpen warm-up.

Looper, signed as a free agent just before the start of spring training, said he first felt a twinge in his side after he sneezed earlier in the week but didn't think twice about it.

"I haven't felt it playing catch," Looper said. "I didn't feel it doing anything. I feel healthy. That's what is frustrating."

When told Hall of Fame reliever Goose Gossage once went on the disabled list after a sneezing-related injury, Looper said, "He's always been a hero of mine, actually. I remember watching him pitch when I was growing up."

Padres manager Bud Black made it onto the unofficial injury report on Saturday, a day after getting hit on the right wrist when catcher Eliezer Alfonzo let go of his bat in a spring training game.

"I got smoked," said Black, whose wrist was swollen. "A little sore today. No further tests necessary."

He was in good spirits in giving the play-by-play of the injury, which happened after he crossed his arms in front of his face to protect himself during the eighth inning of Friday's game against the Indians at the Goodyear, Ariz., ballpark.

"Fairly short range between home plate and the third-base dugout, so I'm just leaning on the rail, as players and coaches do," Black said. "2-0 swing, good finish, came through, let go of the bat, the old whirlybird toward the dugout, right at me, zeroing in. Go into the protective mode, ow, start to turn, contact, bat down, glasses off."

Black, a former big league pitcher who had offseason surgery on his left shoulder thanks to wear and tear, said he reassured everyone in the dugout that he was OK, then put on a brave face despite the pain.

Chris Carpenter's first spring outing was a breeze.

In his first appearance in a game since September, Carpenter needed only 19 pitches to throw two hitless innings in the Cardinals' 9-2 victory over the Nationals.

"I've been in a lot of spring trainings, and spring training is a lot different than the regular season, but like I've said all along, I've felt strong and I've felt good, and my stuff's there," Carpenter said. "Now I have just got to be able to continue to progress my arm strength and pitch count, and get ready to go."

Carpenter was originally slated to throw 40 pitches, but Cardinals manager Tony La Russa pulled him after the second inning.

"Forty is just a number of conditioning, then you put the factors together and you see what makes sense," La Russa said. "He accomplished a lot. He pitched two solid innings. He'll have a great four days of preparation or five days -- there won't be anything that stops him from coming out there again. I didn't think a third inning was worth trying to push."

Carl Pavano made his debut for the Indians, working two perfect innings in a 1-0 loss to the Athletics.

"Carl threw the ball well," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. "He's been very consistent this spring. It's early. We've got a long way to, but it's nice to see him get out there. A lot of guys are throwing the ball well. That's good to see."

Pavano, who signed a one-year, free-agent deal with the Indians, is taking it slow this spring.

"Up to this point, I've been working on my fastball command," Pavano said. "It's been a little inconsistent, but I kept it down. My secondary pitches are a little behind, but I'm working on those. This is just one step in getting ready for the season."

Meanwhile, Wedge doesn't know when Kerry Wood, who had a bullpen session Friday, will throw again. Wood has been bothered by a sore back, but had no problems Friday. And outfielder Grady Sizemore had treatment on his strained left groin Saturday. The injury forced him off the Team USA roster in the World Baseball Classic. He's expected to miss a few games.

Ron Washington, who managed Milton Bradley last year in Texas, described Bradley as a "perfectionist" during an interview this week. Lou Piniella, Bradley's new manager in Chicago, concurs with that assessment based on what he's seen early in spring training.

"The way he pushes himself is his trigger, in a way, to be successful," Piniella said Saturday. "I can see it when he does the drills -- just the way he goes about it -- or when he takes batting practice. It's a focused, intense effort, and it carries on into the game."

Piniella, understandably, is downplaying the possibility of another outburst or two this season from Bradley, whose history of blowups is well documented.

"Heck, when I played, I blew up a few times, too," Piniella said.

The Cubs' biggest concern this season will be keeping Bradley healthy. Last season, Bradley made 97 appearances at designated hitter and started only 20 games in the outfield. Although he should be more mobile now that he's 18 months removed from knee surgery, Piniella is already talking about resting him in day games after night games.

Bradley has been bothered by a tight left quad and a case of the flu early in Cubs camp, and he's listed as day to day.

-- Jerry Crasnick,.

Third baseman Corey Koskie and the Chicago Cubs have agreed to a minor league contract with an invitation to their spring training camp in Mesa, Ariz.

Koskie has been out of the majors since he sustained a concussion while playing for Milwaukee in 2006. But he says he is fully recovered and will play for Canada in the World Baseball Classic. He will report to the Cubs' camp after Canada is finished playing in the WBC.

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said Saturday the club is glad to give the 35-year-old Koskie a chance. The completion of the deal is pending a physical.

Chicago is looking for a backup for Aramis Ramirez.

Royals left-handed reliever John Bale is scheduled to have his thyroid removed Tuesday after being diagnosed with hyperthyroidism caused by Graves' disease, the Kansas City Star reported.

Bale had been losing weight during the offseason in an effort to get in shape, but a routine camp physical and follow-up exam in Kansas City revealed some of that weight loss was due to irregularity in his thyroid. Given a number of medical options, Bale decided to have it removed, because that promised the quickest return to the field -- within two weeks, if all goes well.

"The best way to go about this is to have surgery," Bale said, according to the Star. "Just have it taken out. If I do that, I'll be normal in two weeks. I want to nip it in the bud now."

Bale, who ended last season with 10 straight scoreless appearances, has been penciled in as the Royals' set-up man for closer Joakim Soria.

Randy Johnson went two innings in his first outing for the San Francisco Giants on Friday, giving up one run. But he was happy just to be pitching in February -- something he didn't get to do the past two years, thanks to back surgeries.

"To be able to go out there and feel that good and compete and not worry about anything, that's a good position," Johnson said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. "Tomorrow I know I'm going to feel good. I'll be able to do my program and get ready for my next start. Other than the senior moments I had with my splitter, I felt pretty good."

Those "senior moments" were a splitter that hit Royals first baseman Ryan Shealy and another that was scored as a wild pitch in the Royals' 6-1 win.

Another Giant also had a solid outing on the mound. Jonathan Sanchez, making his first and only appearance before leaving for the World Baseball Classic, threw 45 pitches, walked none and struck out four in three innings.

The will-he-or-won't-he Manny Ramirez drama has dominated the headlines out of Los Angeles Dodgers camp this spring. But the Dodgers' 2009 fortunes might hinge on the health of Jason Schmidt's arm as much as they do on Ramirez's bat.

Schmidt threw 21 pitches (10 strikes), walked two hitters, and recorded just two outs in a brief outing in a B-game between Los Angeles and the Chicago White Sox Friday morning. Afterward, he said he was pitching pain-free but was still working to find the proper arm slot on his delivery.

Schmidt's manager, quietly optimistic about Schmidt's prospects, didn't sound too worried about his mechanics.

"Sometimes you can overthink that stuff," Joe Torre said. "I just have a sense -- and maybe I'm wishing this -- that once he gets a couple games under his belt, that he's going to feel comfortable."

-- Eric Neel, ESPN The Magazine