Bradley still on mend from groin injury

CHICAGO -- After playing one game at far less than full speed, Milton Bradley is back on the Chicago Cubs' bench, nursing a lingering groin injury.

"When he's 100 percent, I'll put him out there," manager Lou Piniella said Thursday, one day after Bradley played right field for the first time in more than a week. "Until then, I'll use [Reed] Johnson and [Micah] Hoffpauir in the outfield."

Despite Bradley's long history of serious injuries, the Cubs signed the switch-hitter to a three-year, $30 million contract during the offseason to bat cleanup and provide balance to what had been a predominantly right-handed lineup.

He had only one hit in the season's first week before sustaining the groin injury April 12 at Milwaukee. After going hitless in two pinch-hitting appearances, he returned to right field Wednesday and went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. The one time he did hit a grounder, he didn't run to first base and was out even though the ball was bobbled. He was booed repeatedly throughout the 3-0 loss to Cincinnati.

A career .280 hitter, Bradley is batting .043 this season. He's 1-for-23 and has struck out seven times.

He also was ejected for arguing a called third strike during his April 16 pinch-hitting appearance and was suspended two games for making contact with an umpire. Rather than serve the suspension while he recuperates, Bradley has appealed, telling Piniella it's a matter of "principle."

Bradley has not spoken to the media in at least a week and told team officials he would not talk Thursday.

"I don't play people unless they're totally healthy," Piniella said. "When I get him out there, I expect him to run hard and play hard the way he always has."

When Bradley does return, he'll be dropped from cleanup to the No. 6 spot, Piniella said, "where he might be a little more comfortable."

Piniella said Bradley would be available to pinch-hit.

Hoffpauir, a 29-year-old rookie who has been Bradley's main replacement, entered Thursday's game against Cincinnati batting .375. Johnson was hitting .294 and made one of the best catches in the majors this season, leaping to rob Milwaukee's Prince Fielder of a grand slam.

The Cubs also called up right-hander Jeff Samardzija from Triple-A Iowa and designated right-hander Luis Vizcaino for assignment.

Samardzija, who made a name for himself as a star receiver at Notre Dame, was impressive as a rookie reliever in 2008. The Cubs sent him to Iowa to begin this season to groom him as a starter but Piniella wanted another power arm in the bullpen.