PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) — The dugout tantrum. The confrontations with umpires. The run-ins with fans and media members. That was not the Milton Bradley on display Monday at the Seattle Mariners' spring training complex.
Bradley was greeted warmly by new teammates, including a player he has long looked up to, Ken Griffey, Jr. Speaking softly after arriving for his physical, Bradley proclaimed that this year, his 10th in the majors with his eighth different club, he's out to have fun.
"Primarily, which I've never said in the past, is I want to have fun," Bradley said. "In the past I've always just wanted to win. I didn't care whether I liked it or not as long as I was winning, because that's all it's about for me. But at this point in my career I want to enjoy it. I want to have fun. I've been fortunate enough to play on a lot of teams and met a lot of guys, so I've built some lasting relationships. That's stuff that I take to heart."
The last time Bradley had fun playing baseball was before last season, which he spent with the Chicago Cubs. Chicago traded Bradley to Seattle last December, the Cubs seeking to get rid of their problem on the roster and the Mariners looking to unload a high-priced veteran pitcher, Carlos Silva, who hadn't produced many wins.
Bradley's time in Chicago was effectively over when the Cubs suspended him for the final two weeks of the season after Bradley criticized the atmosphere surrounding a team that hasn't won a World Series since 1908.
Before that, Bradley was suspended for one game for arguing a called third strike and was sent home early from a game when he attacked a water cooler after popping out.
The Mariners apparently felt Bradley's bat (he hit .321 with Texas in 2008) was worth the risk. Bradley will likely play left field and split designated hitter duties with Griffey.
"It's all the same things," Bradley said of his conversations with every new team he joins before he arrives. "'Are you looking forward to this, or it's a fresh start,' all that cliche stuff. But I don't believe in all that. I'm just, 'You go about your business.' I believe if people allow you to be you and don't steer you in any certain direction or don't steer people's thoughts in a certain direction, then things will work out the way they're supposed to."
To help things work out, the Mariners have situated Bradley's locker at spring training between those of two team leaders from last season: Mike Sweeney and Griffey.
Bradley is familiar with a number of Mariners teammates, and got a call from Griffey right after the trade.
"Anything I needed, he was there, and I wouldn't expect anything less," Bradley said. "For me, it's Griffey and it's (Barry) Bonds and they're my idols."
Griffey said Bradley has established himself as a solid hitter who plays hard. He joked that all Bradley has to do to get to know Griffey is take him out to lunch.
"He will have fun. He has no other choice but to have fun," Griffey said. "It's a mutual respect ... He can flat play and I don't see anything other than he's a professional who wants to do things the right way."