Bradley's unhappiness a mystery to Cubs
Players found outfielder challenging throughout season
ST. LOUIS -- Rather than blame the fans or the media or the Cubs, Milton Bradley needs to look in the mirror, Ryan Dempster said Sunday about the outfielder, who was suspended for the remainder of the season.
"It's unfortunate," Dempster said. "I think everybody's going to want to point fingers in different directions and try to put the blame somewhere on what the reasons are and all different things.
"At the end of the day, he was provided a great opportunity to come over here and be a part of a really great organization with a lot of really good guys, and it just didn't seem to make him happy, anything. Maybe this is a little bit of a wakeup call for him and he can realize how good a gig we have."
General manager Jim Hendry made the decision after comments Bradley made in which he said it was "not a positive environment" with the Cubs. The first year of Bradley's three-year $30 million contract with the Cubs is over, and not because of injury, but because of his attitude.
"It became one of those things," Dempster said, "where you see him putting the blame on everybody else, and sometimes you have to look in the mirror and realize that maybe the biggest part of the problem is yourself and wanting to be there and wanting to play every day and wanting to have some fun. It didn't seem like he wanted to have very much fun, even from Spring Training."
"This story's not really about him, it's bigger than him. It's about us as an organization and doing what we need to do as a team. He'll have to try to figure it out himself."
Outfielder Reed Johnson suggested the Cubs may not be a good fit for Bradley, who has voiced his unhappiness more than once in the media.
"That's tough for a guy like me to understand," Johnson said. "I came from Toronto and fell in love with the city [of Chicago] and fell in love with the organization. It's hard for me to believe you can come to this city and come to this organization and not enjoy your time here.
"I've heard guys like Eric Karros and Jason Kendall say if you're playing Major League Baseball over a long career, you have to play at least one year for the Chicago Cubs. It's a good thing, not a bad thing. I think all of us are really surprised that a player could come here and not have the time of his life."
Hendry met with the players before Sunday's game to deliver the news about Bradley.
"I've never seen a general manager suspend a player for something he's been doing or something he says in the paper," third baseman Aramis Ramirez said. "Jim's got a point. If you don't want to be here, he sent him home."
Ryan Theriot's locker was next to Bradley's at Wrigley Field, and the shortstop tried to reach out to him.
"There were good days and bad days," Theriot said.
"It seemed like it was always a challenge every day," Dempster said. "You hate to see somebody that unhappy."
Bradley has said he felt isolated, but Johnson said the players tried to include him.
"I think for the most part, that was his choice," Johnson said.
"I think a lot of guys in here tried to reach out to him," Dempster said. "Maybe it takes something really, really hard and a little painful at times to get the point across."
Derrek Lee tried. The Cubs first baseman called Bradley after he and manager Lou Piniella got into a shouting match at U.S. Cellular Field during an Interleague game.
"I think this is a different situation," Lee said. "I would let him reach out to me on this one. He got suspended for the season. There's not much I can do to help him on that one. If he needed to talk, I'd talk."
Lee's locker is on the other side of Bradley's. What was his take on him?
"He's a quiet guy," Lee said. "I think he likes his privacy. ... I think a lot of frustration built up in him and he didn't let it out the right way."
The only negative vibe the Cubs felt, Dempster said, is the fact that they won't three-peat in the National League Central. The St. Louis Cardinals headed into Sunday's game with their magic number down to four.
Bradley was quoted as saying he felt nothing but negativity around the Cubs.
"You say everybody's out to get you," Dempster said. "If you notice that they're always looking for you, I think maybe you're always looking for them. I've been here six years and haven't had a problem with anybody."
"My advice would be, I guess, to make amends to whoever you need to," Lee said. "This is a pretty serious situation. If you're serious about wanting to continue your career, you don't want to finish the season being suspended. My advice would be to talk to the people you need to talk to and maybe apologize if that's what you need to do."
Can Bradley come back to the Cubs?
"Those are decisions that Jim and everybody else has to make," Dempster said. "He said some pretty harsh things about the Cubs. ... If he is back, we have to figure out a way to make it work and he has to figure out a way to make it work."
"I don't know," Ramirez said when asked if Bradley could come back. "I don't think so."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.