Piniella defends GM's faith in Bradley
Players Association may file grievance over suspension
MILWAUKEE -- Cubs manager Lou Piniella defended general manager Jim Hendry and his decision to gamble on Milton Bradley this past offseason despite the outfielder's checkered past. On Sunday, Hendry suspended Bradley for the final 15 games after he criticized the Cubs, saying it was a negative environment.
"You try things," Piniella said, "and you don't do things because you don't think they're going to work. You do your homework. Do they work out all the time? I don't think anybody's a miracle man and things can work out all the time."
Piniella reminded critics that Hendry is the same person who put together the last two Cubs teams that won the National League Central.
"In this business here, when things don't work, somebody is going to take some heat," Piniella said. "The amazing thing is, when things don't work you take more heat, and when they work, you don't get as much credit."
The Cubs were Bradley's seventh team, and the first to offer him a multi-year contract. Hendry signed Bradley to a three-year, $30 million deal in January, looking for a left-handed bat to fit in the middle of the lineup. Instead of following up his .321 season in 2008 with Texas with another stellar year, Bradley batted .257 overall, including .234 from the left side, with 12 homers and 40 RBIs.
Although it hasn't been resolved, Bradley was expected to be paid while serving his suspension.
ESPN.com reported Monday that the Major League Baseball Players Association was considering filing a grievance to challenge the suspension. According to the story, the MLBPA was waiting for the Cubs to file a formal notice of the suspension. Michael Weiner, the union's general counsel, said once the notice is received, the MLBPA will confer with Bradley and his agents, Seth and Sam Levinson, before deciding whether to file a grievance.
The Cubs declined to comment on the report. Piniella said the team needs to move forward, and on Monday, it appeared the players had done just that. The mood in the visitors' clubhouse at Miller Park was more positive and upbeat than it has been all season. Bradley, obviously, not only didn't contribute on the field, but didn't help team chemistry at all.
"When you manage a baseball team, what you want are the least distractions you can possibly have," Piniella said. "The more distractions, it makes it more difficult, and not only for the manager and coaching staff but for the players and the organization. You try to shy away from the distractions. My job basically is to get guys to play and play as well as possible, and that's what I try to do."
Milwaukee's Ken Macha managed Bradley in Oakland in 2006. Was he surprised by the outfielder's troubles in Chicago?
"The Cubs have to do what they have to do," Macha said Monday. "I had him for a year, and I think Milton and I are friends, so I'm not going to say anything negative about Milton. I know Lou and Jim Hendry, and I'm friends with them, too, so those guys have to figure out what's going on with their own club."
When asked to characterize Bradley's personality, Macha said: "He's intense, let me put it that way. He played well for me. He was our best player in the playoffs, and that guy has a tremendous desire to win."
Can Bradley rejoin the Cubs?
"I can't answer that," Piniella said. "That's up to Jim to decide. Our posture here right now is to finish as strong as we can the next 14 days, play some kids and take a look at them, and win as many games as we can.
"It's been a struggle this year, no question. But there's some good talent here, and with a little touch here and a little touch there, we could be right back where we were last year."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.