The story that just keeps on giving:
Milton Bradley's return as Seattle's cleanup hitter lasted six innings and two strikeouts. Then, Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu removed the angry slugger from Tuesday night's loss to Tampa Bay.
The self-proclaimed Kanye West of baseball wasn't in the stadium immediately after Seattle's fourth straight loss. Multiple Mariners say Bradley was furious for leaving a 3-1 game following his second strikeout looking against James Shields, with the bases loaded in the sixth.
Multiple Mariners said Bradley's mindset late Tuesday night was "not good," though Wakamatsu deflected thoughts of an incident with a fiery former All-Star who is on his eighth team in 10 seasons.
"We just felt at that time, what went on with the two strikeouts, it was time to get him out of the ballgame," Wakamatsu said following the 5-2 loss. "It was just time to get him out."
Bradley went 0 for 3 batting cleanup for the first since April 9, when he was in the middle of a 1-for-22 debut for Seattle.
He and Wakamatsu were due to appear along with Ken Griffey Jr., Ichiro Suzuki and Mike Sweeney at an elementary school Wednesday afternoon for the Mariners' annual education day in the Seattle community.
Fortunately, we sneaked a reporter into P.S. 37 this afternoon ...
Question No. 1, from little Zoe Einstein: "Mr. Ichiro, can't you teach those other nice men how to hit?"
Question No. 2, from little Eli Milstead: "Mr. Wak... Wak... Mr. Wakmoosto, why doesn't your boss give you better hitters for your lineup?
Between the three of them, Griffey, Bradley, and Sweeney have sucked up nearly all of the left-field and DH time. Their combined line?
Seriously, the Mariners have big problems. They can and probably should release Milton Bradley. Wakamatsu can "downplay thoughts of an incident" all he likes, but a manager really shouldn't be asked to tolerate a player who's debilitated by a couple of early-May strikeouts.
But if Bradley's gone, is there someone better to replace him?
If Griffey and Sweeney are gone, is there someone better to replace them?
Well, yeah. Just about anybody would be better than Griffey and Sweeney. Someone significantly better, though?
I used to think Mike Carp was the man; he's hitting .203/.301/.405 in Tacoma.
I used to think (and still do, mostly) that Michael Saunders was the man; he's hitting .195/.276/.208 in Tacoma.
Matt Tuiasosopo can hit a little, but the M's just sent him down a few days ago and anyway he's really a third baseman.
There just isn't much help available to the Mariners, anywhere. They made their bed last winter when they re-signed Griffey and traded for Bradley, and this spring when they kept Mike Sweeney.
Now they get to lose in it.