10/17/2003 10:15 AM ET Bradley's potential untapped While talent is obvious, attitude is a work in progress By Justice B. Hill / MLB.com
"(Milton Bradley) needs to do everything possible to control staying on the field," said GM Mark Shapiro. (Frank Polich/AP)
CLEVELAND -- He has been an enigma. But he has also been a superb talent, too. Yet that talent hasn't always been put to its proper use -- until this last season. Finally, center fielder Milton Bradley put his many talents to use. Bradley produced numbers that rivaled those of any center fielder in the American League. Still, he has questions to answer, but most of those questions have nothing to do with his talent.
On a team looking for character in its players, the moody Bradley has not shown the sterling character the Indians want to see in their players, which might be one reason his name had been linked to midseason trades.
"I feel like Milton made strides this year -- both developmentally and from a performance standpoint," Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said. "He needs, most importantly, to stay on the field.
"Some of that is outside his control. Some of that is genes, and situations and circumstances. But, certainly, some of that is controllable. He needs to do everything possible to control staying on the field."
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For the Tribe, the good thing is that it has players like Jody Gerut, Coco Crisp and Alex Escobar who can fill in for Bradley. But Shapiro is the first to admit that the club is a lot stronger with the 25-year-old Bradley roaming center than with him on the bench -- or on the disabled list.
Bradley, who missed one game when manager Eric Wedge benched him, spent the last six weeks sidelined with a back injury, and he has a history of injuries that have taken him out of the lineup.
"We want him to be part of this team," Shapiro said. "That being said, obviously, I've made that comment that it's also going to be conditional."
That condition is simple: Bradley, who's still facing criminal charges after a run-in with Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, police, needs to play hard, produce and stay out of trouble -- on and off the field.
Did you know? Bob Feller is the only pitcher to pitch a no-hitter on Opening Day. On April 16, 1940, "Rapid Robert" no-hit the Chicago White Sox in Comiskey Park.
Coaching carousel: The Indians have another coach whose talents are being courted elsewhere. The Chicago White Sox have asked Shapiro for permission to interview bench coach Buddy Bell for their managerial vacancy. Shapiro granted that request.
Bell, who has managed the Detroit Tigers and the Colorado Rockies, is viewed as a leading candidate to manage the White Sox, a veteran ballclub that finished second in the AL Central.
Bell is the second Indians coach to get a look from other organizations. Hitting coach Eddie Murray is considered a leading candidate to manage the Baltimore Orioles, who relieved former Indians manager Mike Hargrove of his duties after the season.
"I hope I get one or both of them back," Wedge said. "I wish them both the best."
Down on the farm: Team USA starter Jason Stanford pitched 4 2/3 innings Wednesday in the longest outing by any Team USA starter so far. Stanford limited the Arizona Fall League’s Peoria Saguaros to four hits and one run before giving way to reliever Brian Bruney, who got the final out of the fifth. Adam Wainwright (1-0) took over in the sixth and worked three innings, giving up three runs on three hits, but he was given credit for the victory. Jesse Crain pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to finish it out for Team USA.
Tribe tidbits: The Indians have 35 players on their 40-man roster, which should give the club protection against having some of its prime prospects taken in the Rule 5 draft in December. The club's move of infielder Greg LaRocca, outfielder Chris Magruder and reliever Jose Santiago to Triple-A Buffalo opened roster room, but the Indians still have decisions to make with the seven players on the disabled list. At some point, the Tribe will have to account for those players.
Quote 'em: "Baseball is a kid's game that grownups only tend to screw up." -- Former Indians pitcher Bob Lemon in 1979 when he managed the New York Yankees.