Bradley can refuse assignment to minor leagues

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland Athletics designated
outfielder Milton Bradley for assignment Thursday, cutting ties
with a player who was expected to play an important role on the
team this season.

Milton Bradley


Center Field
Oakland Athletics


The move was made to avoid a logjam in the outfield with the
emergence of rookie Travis Buck and the return of other players
from injuries.

Nick Swisher, Mark Kotsay, Jack Cust, Shannon Stewart and Buck are all competing for playing time in the outfield, and Chris
Snelling and Bobby Kielty are expected to come off the disabled
list soon.

"We ultimately were going to have a problem with all of our
outfielders at some point," general manager Billy Beane said on a
conference call. "Nobody was going to ultimately be happy. This is
really as much as anything proactive instead of reactive to
something that certainly was going to be there."

Bradley had been on the disabled list three times this year and
was frustrated that the team waited two extra days to activate him
this week because of uncertainty about third baseman Eric Chavez's

Asked Tuesday how he was feeling, Bradley curtly responded,
"I'm healthy and on the bench." Bradley was activated from the DL
the following day and went 0-for-3 with a walk.

The A's have 10 days to trade or release Bradley. Because he has
more than three years of major-league service time, Bradley can
refuse an assignment to the minor leagues.

"It's an unfortunate situation," said Bradley's agent, Sam
Levinson. "Milton is healthy and looking forward to helping some
club win many games this season."

In another move Thursday, the A's activated right-hander Rich
Harden from the 15-day disabled list and optioned right-hander
Shane Komine to Triple-A Sacramento.

Harden, who has been out since April 16 with a strained right
shoulder, will initially pitch out of the bullpen as he tries to
build up strength to eventually return to the rotation.

Bradley, who agreed to a one-year, $4 million deal with Oakland
in the offseason, was first shelved from April 23 to May 10 with a
strained left hamstring. He went on the DL a second time May 15-29
when the hamstring flared up again, before being sidelined a third
time June 3 with a calf injury.

His missed 51 games in all with the injuries and has had five
stints on the disabled list in two seasons with Oakland. He was
hitting .292 with two homers and seven RBIs in 65 at-bats this

"Ultimately Milton sees himself as an everyday player and he
probably is," Beane said. "This will give him an opportunity in
his free agency to go out and play possibly every day."

The A's were counting on much more out of Bradley, especially since he had a strong postseason to cap his first year in Oakland. He hit
.276 with 14 homers in 52 RBIs in 96 regular-season games before
hitting three homers and driving in seven runs in seven postseason

But Bradley has always been known as much for his volatile
behavior as his baseball skills. In 2005, he accused Dodgers
teammate Jeff Kent of a lack of leadership and an inability to deal
with black players.

Bradley was also suspended for the final five games of the 2004
season when he slammed a plastic bottle at the feet of a fan in the
box seats in the right field corner at Dodger Stadium after someone
threw it on the field. Nobody was injured.

Bradley had two run-ins with police during traffic stops in
Ohio, one that landed him a three-day stay in jail and another that
nearly sent him back for a second visit. When he was with the
Dodgers, police responded three times to Bradley's home on domestic
violence calls, but he wasn't arrested or charged.

Oakland recalled infielder Kevin Melillo from Sacramento to take
Bradley's place on the roster. Melillo was hitting .267 with seven
homers and 40 RBIs for the River Cats.