Why Was Milton Bradley Pulled?

May 5, 2010, 8:25 AM | Updated: Apr 4, 2011, 7:51 pm

by Mike Salk

So, amidst the awful 5-2 loss last night to a very good Rays team, a few things jump out.

-Jason Vargas was really good again. 6.2 innings against a very potent offense allowing only 4 hits and 3 runs while stiking out a career high 8. Those numbers would be impressive normally, but even more so knowing the team made three errors behind him. Vargas had the stuff last night to go eight innings. Right now, he looks like a legitimate major league starter, and should not be worried about his spot if/when Erik Bedard returns.

-The real story of the night may end up being what happened with Milton Bradley. A few people have already done a good job of working on this. I recommend Ryan Divish’s blog entry which has a god overview and Kirby Arnold’s story which seems to be the only one with the information that Bradley “walked back to the dugout and, as he descended the steps, flung his bat and helmet hard down another set of steps that lead to the doorway to the clubhouse.”

Here’s what I can tell you: I can’t ever remember seeing a cleanup hitter pulled for a defensive replacement while trailing by two runs in the sixth inning unless either he was hurt or had done something wrong. And there does not appear to be any injury problem here.

Don Wakamatsu does not exactly have a reputation as a guy with a short fuse (his only real stern moment was his famous “Felix talk” last season that was an unmitigated success) and with his team desperately needing hits, he would be loathe to pull one of his best threats before the game was out of reach. So whatever happened either was more serious than we know so far, or was the culmination of a few months worth of minor incidents.

I can tell you that there are those around the team who have expressed frustration with Bradley before last night. I have been told that there are little things that bother players like not being with his hitting group while they bunt before they take batting practice. By itself, no big deal. But players (and managers) usually want guys to WANT to do these things and not to look for special treatment. And multiple issues like that can add up. This latest incident makes me wonder if there are more that we haven’t heard about.

Finally, managers (not necessarily this one) often tell us that a player has an injury in order to lessen the impact of whatever discipline they are imposing. Instead of saying, “I pulled this guy because I was mad at him!” they sometimes soften it by saying instead that the player tweaked a hamstring or whatever. It seems worth noting that Wak did not do that last night even though Bradley has recently been bothered by a sore calf. Instead, he gave a failry cryptic answer, saying, “We just felt at that time what went on with the two strikeouts it was time to get him out of the ballgame.”

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Why Was Milton Bradley Pulled?