Proving that no steroid rumors are necessary to have every sportswriter in America gunning for you, Dodgers OF Milton Bradley spoke to the LA Daily News’ Tony Jackson about the upcoming season.
Just a half-hour after manager Jim Tracy said Tuesday he hasn’t decided between Bradley or newcomer J.D. Drew as his everyday center fielder, the often-volatile Bradley said the issue is settled.
“Last year, we needed Steve Finley in order to win the division and make the playoffs, so I moved over to right field to make room for him,” said Bradley, who arrived at spring training one day before the reporting date for position players. “I made that sacrifice. But as for now, I’m playing center field.”
Asked how he would react to being asked to play right again, Bradley was even more decisive.
“That won’t happen,” he said. “I don’t believe it will. It really wouldn’t make sense for a guy who has played right field his whole career to start playing center when you have a capable center fielder already.”
Drew, who also reported Tuesday but quickly left the complex because he was feeling ill, has said he prefers to play center but would be willing to play right. Drew primarily played right field most of his six seasons in St. Louis and one year in Atlanta, but in he was playing alongside Jim Edmonds with the Cardinals and Andruw Jones with the Braves. Edmonds and Jones have won seven Gold Gloves apiece in center field.
Bradley and Drew are superb defensive outfielders. Jayson Werth, slated to play left field, also is capable of playing center.
Told of Bradley’s comments, Tracy more or less shrugged them off.
“If I could play center field the way (Bradley) does, I would feel that way myself,” Tracy said. “I know we’re going to have three center fielders in our outfield. I know we’re going to have an outfield that is pretty good defensively. And I think it’s important to get each one of those guys 400 to 500 at-bats for us to be the best team we can possibly be.”
Although Bradley made it clear he thinks he is more deserving of the center field job than Drew, he also was careful not to disrespect his new teammate, who signed a five-year, $55 million free-agent deal with the Dodgers two months ago.
“I don’t know much about J.D. Drew, but he’s a religious man, and I respect him,” Bradley said. “Either way, each one of us is going to play about the same number of games and get about the same number of at-bats.”