Bradley: Media trying to make him 'snap'

CHICAGO -- After playing one game at far less than full speed, Chicago Cubs outfielder Milton Bradley said Thursday he's not close to returning from a lingering groin injury.

"I want to say I am, but I'm not," Bradley told Cubs.com.

Bradley has not spoken to the media in at least a week. He spoke to Cubs.com because it is affiliated with the Cubs' organization, the Web site said.

Speaking of the fourth estate, the at-times-volatile Bradley accused Chicago's media of trying to make him "snap," a remark that comes on the heels of his ejection for arguing a called third strike during his April 16 pinch-hitting appearance, and the subsequent two-game suspension for making contact with umpire Larry Vanover.

"I'm just not into negativity," he said. "I can see already I'm going to be that guy that since nothing else is going on in here, 'We're going to harp on Bradley all year and see if we can get him to snap.' I'm not going to go for it. You can't get a good story if I don't talk to [the media]. You'll make something up, like you always do."

"If I talk to you, you're going to make something up, and if I don't talk to you, you're going to make something up. So just go ahead and make something up and leave me out of it."

Rather than serve the suspension while he recuperates, Bradley has appealed, telling manager Lou Piniella it's a matter of "principle." Bradley doesn't believe he made contact with Vanover and told Cubs.com that "they need a forensic scientist to find a frame that shows I touched him with the bill of my helmet."

Meanwhile, the Cubs might have to put Bradley on the 15-day disabled list this weekend if he doesn't show signs of being ready to play regularly.

"When he's 100 percent, I'll put him out there," 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.

"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.

Bradley had only one hit in the season's first week before suffering 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.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.