THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
SEATTLE — Milton Bradley, baseball’s self-described bad guy, has asked his Seattle Mariners for help in dealing with what manager Don Wakamatsu says is "emotional stress" from personal issues.
Wakamatsu and general manager Jack Zduriencik said Wednesday that their fiery slugger is out indefinitely until he receives an outside assessment and a plan to address his issues.
"It’s come to a head," Zduriencik said.
A day earlier, Bradley became angry for striking out twice and Wakamatsu removed him from a close game in the sixth inning because the manger thought he wasn’t fit to play anymore. Bradley left the stadium soon after. Several Mariners players described his mind set Tuesday night as "not good."
Wednesday morning, Bradley called Wakamatsu to ask for a face-to-face meeting with him and Zduriencik. The 32-year-old then arrived at Safeco Field and told the leaders of his eighth team in 10 seasons, "I need your help."
It was a startling admission from a player who publicly blamed Chicago’s fans and media for running him out of that city following his failed season with the Cubs in 2009.
"The fact he has stood up and asked for us to help him, I think, is an extremely important step for him as a young man," Zduriencik said.
Bradley is batting .214 with two home runs and 12 RBIs in 21 games.
Wakamatsu called him in last month after he flipped off a fan during a game in Texas in the midst of a 1-for-21 start. Also last month, the slumping slugger admitted to Wakamatsu he feels enormous pressure to produce in Seattle.
His final strikeout Tuesday came looking at a pitch down the middle with the bases loaded in what became Seattle’s fourth consecutive loss.
He told the Mariners’ leaders, and then his teammates in a clubhouse meeting later, that his issues have put him in a position where he can’t compete the way he expects, and that "it’s been a long time coming."
Zduriencik said he spoke to Bradley’s agent and "they are happy and are on board with this."
Ryan Langerhans, called up from triple-A on Tuesday, was in Wednesday’s lineup for Bradley in left field against Tampa Bay. The Mariners are exploring roster options to possibly deactivate Bradley for a short time.
"He’s going through some things in his life right now that are very personal and very emotional," Zduriencik said. "We firmly believe that we manage people first. Certainly we are about winning baseball games … but most important is the employees that work with us. We will join together and help him receive the assistance that he needs."
Two hours earlier, Bradley revealed yet another emotional side.
Joined by fellow speakers Wakamatsu, Ichiro Suzuki, Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Sweeney, Bradley stood before students and teachers at Lakeridge Elementary school in south Seattle and openly discussed what motivates him.
The man who in March told The Associated Press he was baseball’s Kanye West interrupted himself at one point because he was getting overcome with emotions during an impassioned five-minute talk to students on the Mariners’ annual education day.
"I grew up in Long Beach, Calif., me and my mother," Bradley said softly through a microphone while in front of a stage in the school’s lunchroom. "She worked in a grocery store, checking out groceries every day, 40 hours a week. Every day she’d come home, get the mail. She’d get in the same chair with the bills. She’d put in one pile the bills she could pay. In another pile she’d put the ones she couldn’t pay. Bill collectors would call. I saw her fall asleep in that chair.
"I saw that every day. That was my motivation," to reach the major leagues.
Then, Bradley — who recently complained that no one ever asks him where he’s from, what he’s about — shrugged. With a previously buzzing student body nearly silent and teachers watching intently, Bradley said through glistening eyes: "I’m kind of getting a little emotional right now, because this is my heart."
Then he waved his hand over the kids.
"The whole world’s ahead of you," Bradley said. "Someone in here might change the world. Motivation is what’s most important."
As Bradley sat down, Sweeney hugged him. The five-time all-star then gave Bradley’s back a comforting pat. The slugger smiled.
After the school event, Sweeney said the Mariners are going to help Bradley.
"The way we’re going to do that is just, to love on him," Sweeney said. "His track record shows he’s had some ups and downs. But we can embrace him and get him to click the way he did in Texas (in 2008, Bradley’s all-star season).
"He’s a beautiful man, with a beautiful heart."