Bradley: 'I'm Made Out to Be Someone I'm Not'

158007.jpg

Bradley: 'I'm Made Out to Be Someone I'm Not'

Friday, April 23, 2010
7:10 PM

By Chuck GarfienCSNChicago.com

Milton Bradley is easily one of the most polarizing players in Chicago sports history. And by polarizing, I mean most Cubs fans either hate him or really hate him.

If you have a conversation with Milton, like I did in the Mariners dugout before Friday's game, 98 was cordial, engaging, insightful. But what has dogged Bradley throughout his career is a brain cell buried in the back of his mind that produces the leftover 2, which happened to come out again.

It all started when I asked Bradley about his time here in Chicago. Below is part of the conversation that followed:

CG: Do you feel as if you were misrepresented by the media, players, teammates, fans?

MB: As a black man playing this game..the majority of the media is middle-aged white guys. So, I don't think you can accurately construe what I have to say or portray me as who I am because you don't know. You don't know where I come from, no one's asked those questions. They just see what they see. I never carried a gun, I never hurt anybody. But, I'm made out to be somebody I'm not. I'm a nerd. I graduated with a 3.7 GPA in high school, I got an 1120 on my SAT. I play Scrabble on my phone in the bullpen with (Seattle pitcher) Shawn Kelly. That's stuff people don't know. I'm as non-violent and non-threatening as they come.

CG: So I guess I'm one of the people because I'm a middle-age white person?

MB: Well, I mean it is what it is. In the NBA, the majority of the players are African-American and the majority of the media is Caucasian. That's just what it is, I'm not saying anything that's not true.

CG: Yeah, but I don't think it has to be a confrontational relationship.

MB: No, its not confrontational. If you can say I'm gonna give this guy a chance, give him an interview and if you keep sticking your hand in that fire and keep getting burned, you are not going to stick your hand in there anymore.

CG: I'm trying to really understand what you are saying here.

MB: Like I said, when I signed with Chicago, the first thing they put in the paper was from 2004 when I threw a bag of balls with the Dodgers. It wasn't me in 2008 standing on the field with Hank Aaron and Willie Mays as an All-Star leading the American League in OPS. They took something negative and there's always going to be a negative. Unless I hit .400 or we go to the World Series it's always going to be Milton Bradley's fault. And one man don't make a baseball team.

CG: You dont think it would have happened if it was a white person who had done that?

MB: Has it happened?

CG: I think it has. Sure. Roger Clemens.

MB: Roger Clemens never played for the Cubs. Name someone from Chicago besides Latroy Hawkins or Jacque Jones or Corey Patterson or Milton Bradley thats gotten destroyed by the media.

CG: I just thought about Lou Piniella. He gets a negative reaction.

MB: When things are good, its because of Lou. When things are bad, its always someone elses fault.

CG: Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, they took a lot of heat.

MB: They didnt take any heat. Jim Hendry took the heat for throwing them too much.

CG: Nahh, I dont know about that.

MB: They didnt take any heat. Kerry Wood is loved in Chicago. Mark Prior is loved in Chicago.

CG: But when they had a bad season, I think it went the other way, no?

MB: No, youre stretching now. Youre reaching. Thats what you guys do. Im just telling it like it is. I dont care if you dont like it. You dont have to like it. I dont like what I see or what I read or what I hear. The world aint gonna change.

CG: But you have to admit that when you had a good game, it was told that you had a good game.

MB: I didnt read it.

CG: So you cant say that if you only heard about the bad stuff that its all bad.

MB: People arent going to come to me and say, Oh, you had a good game yesterday. They come to me and say, They said this, this, and this about you.

CG: Well, maybe thats just life.

MB: I dont know. I never had a problem anywhere else.

And one post-script from our conversation. After getting released by the Cubs on September 19, Bradley said he went home and tuned out baseball, choosing instead to focus on his family, friends, and fantasy football team. He was in the Cubs fantasy football league, and guess who won the championship?

Milton.

He says hes still waiting to receive his winnings.

Watch the complete interview above!

If you haven't gotten enough Milton, here's a positive story I tried to do with him last season about the greatest hit of his baseball career.

The one problem, Milton didn't want to do it.

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox slugger Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

Under-the-radar Reynaldo Lopez impressing White Sox: 'He's got some stuff'

Under-the-radar Reynaldo Lopez impressing White Sox: 'He's got some stuff'

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- He maybe doesn't receive the same hype as some of his peers, but the White Sox think Reynaldo Lopez deserves plenty of attention.

A highly-touted prospect for two seasons now, Lopez took a big leap forward in a 2016 season that resulted in two promotions, including a trip to the big leagues.

While Michael Kopech and Lucas Giolito have garnered much of the attention, Lopez, who was acquired with Giolito in the Adam Eaton trade, is right on their heels if not equal. Lopez -- who produced a 3.21 ERA in 19 minor-league starts last season and struck out 42 batters in 44 innings in the majors -- is rated the No. 31 prospect in baseball by Baseball America and 38th by MLB.com.

"He's looked good from the get-go," pitching coach Don Cooper said. "The bottom line is we like all three of them. I didn't hear a lot (about him). When people are asking me questions it's usually about Giolito and Kopech. I'm not sure why because he's a gifted kid. He's got some stuff."

Lopez, 23, already has pitched in 11 regular season games (six starts) and made a playoff appearance. He earned those outings by excelling in a season that began at Double-A Harrisburg. Two seasons after he put up outstanding numbers at Single-A, Lopez dominated the Eastern League with 100 strikeouts in 76 1/3 innings and 3.18 ERA. He attributes his success to calming himself down in game situations.

"I just kept my focus in the game," Lopez said through an interpreter. "Before, I thought a lot about things and I couldn't think. And then I realized to keep my focus on the game. Sometimes if someone hit me or something, my mind got stuck in that moment. But then I understood you have to have a short memory and just let the things that are happening (be) in the past and focus on what's happening."

Lopez, 23, said he has taken the same approach to handling his trade to the White Sox. The right-hander admits he was shocked at first when he heard he was traded by the Washington Nationals, who signed him for $17,000 in 2012 out of the Dominican Republic.

But the more he thought about it, Lopez realized how good of an opportunity he has in front of him with the rebuilding White Sox. The club intends to try Lopez out as a starter --- there's debate among scouting analysts whether he's meant for the bullpen or rotation --- at Triple-A Charlotte this season. Asked what he prefers, Lopez said he's a starter.

And rather than try to impress the club by overthrowing a fastball that MLB.com graded 70 on the 20-80 scale, Lopez has worked on location early in camp. Those efforts haven't gone unnoticed by Cooper and manager Rick Renteria.

"Lopez is a guy who maybe goes under the radar a little bit, but when you see his bullpen work, he's pretty clean, pretty efficient," Renteria said. "He hits his spots."

Through four throwing sessions, Cooper said he likes how Lopez has located his fastball and curveball. Cooper thinks the changeup, which is the lowest graded of his three pitches (45 out of 80), is where the most work is needed. But Cooper is pleased with how Lopez has worked in the bullpen and batting practice and looks forward to seeing how it carries over once the exhibition season begins.

Lopez likes how he has fit in with the White Sox through the first week and a half. An aggressive pitcher by nature --- "I like to get ahead in the count," he said --- Lopez has tried to work down in the zone in the early part of camp. He said that was one of his main takeaways from pitching in the majors.

"I learned a lot from that experience," Lopez said. "I learned how to pitch. It's not just throw hard. You have to locate your pitches and be smart. I think that was the most important thing for me, from that experience."

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with executive vice president Ken Williams

kenwilliamssox.png
USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with executive vice president Ken Williams

GLENDALE, ARIZ -- Ken Williams acknowledges that this is the first time as an executive that he's ever been a part of a rebuild.  After realizing their go-for-it attitude for more than a decade had run out of steam, the White Sox front office decided it needed to look in the mirror, take a step back, and start anew. It began this offseason with the trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, and will continue into this season and likely next season.

No longer involved in the day-to-day running of the White Sox, Williams believes he has found the right balance as the team's executive and vice president, utilizing his strengths in scouting and player development while overseeing things as Hahn reshapes the organization from top to bottom.

How does this dynamic work between Williams and Hahn? Williams goes in-depth on this subject and many others in our White Sox Talk Podcast conversation.

Among the highlights:

Working relationship with Rick Hahn: "The relationship has been the same and consistent since the very beginning.  We're constantly talking.  I'm not going to BS you and say that we don't have these conversations. I just think that a certain point in time, you just have to say here is your responsibility and mine is over here. I have to respect the fact that this is what you want to do. I'm only going to express my interest to a point so that you can come to your own decision without my influence and then we're getting to brass tax.  Most times than not, he'll express, 'Hey, I need to know what you think. But until that time you've got to give people the space to do a job as they see fit, and to plot a course as they see fit."

Trading Chris Sale: "Contrary to popular belief, we have enjoyed a great relationship over the years. There was obviously a little blip in that part of it and I've always understood him because I was a little bit like that when I was younger too.  It was very often a couple days later we'd visit and laugh about a couple things but also in a serious manner.  he's one of the best in the game.  How do you trade one of the best pitchers in the game and not feel some remorse about it?  On the other end of the spectrum we got what we think are special pieces that will be with us for quite a while assuming good health. And you can envision them being part of a championship team.  We got to the point where we couldn't envision that particular group that we had be a part of a championship team and that's what it's about."

Possibly trading Jose Quintana: "I have not been presented with anything that has been recommended by Rick that he wants to do. So in terms of closeness, we've bantered some things around, but Jose Quintana is a very, very special pitcher. I'm sure if something comes up where it's consistent with what we've done thus far then I'm sure Rick will put it in front of both Jerry and I.  But until that time, I can't say that anything has been close or relatively close."

His hopes for the White Sox: "My only goal at this point in my career is to help bring another championship to Chicago and to Chicago fans, watch Rick Hahn walk across the stage to receive an Executive of the Year award and watch Rick Renteria accept the Manager of the Year Award.  Then I will consider this a job well done. If any of those things don't happen, then it won't be.  I sincerely feel that in my heart."