Bradley talks about self-examination

SEATTLE -- Buried under a mountain of pressure and the constant buzz of a $30 million contract, Milton Bradley says he pondered getting help in 2009 during his short and controversial stay with the Chicago Cubs.

"I wanted to take some time out, get my thoughts together, and just speak to someone and get an understanding from somebody unbiased," Bradley said. "But you can't really do that in Chicago. There's just too much going on."

Bradley, who returned to the Seattle Mariners lineup this week after two weeks on the restricted list, told ESPN.com he is seeing a counselor in town who has an athletic background and "dealt with anger himself."

For more than two seasons, Bradley said, he's been struggling with an intense pressure to produce and succeed, and that the stress has occasionally led to unpleasant thoughts.

"It's always been like my validation, my worth as a human being is that I've been a good baseball player," Bradley said. "That's a bad way to look at it, but that's just how I've looked at it. I just really had this hopeless feeling when I wasn't playing baseball well.

"I know when I start thinking about not living anymore based on the fact that I'm not playing baseball well, that's when I know I need to take a step back."

Bradley returned to the lineup Wednesday night, eager to play baseball, which he calls his respite. He sat down with ESPN.com this weekend for a 45-minute interview about his road to getting help, his duality as a deep-thinking bad boy, and his love for his new team and town.

"Because I'm a big guy, a 210-pound, 6-foot baseball player, I'm strong and can hit a baseball a long way," Bradley said. "But I'm still human. My heart still pumps the same blood as everyone else. I have feelings and emotions, and my feelings are deep and strong."

Elizabeth Merrill is a senior writer for ESPN.com.