With one last and unexpected chance to land a big hitter before the season starts Monday, the Dodgers are pursuing a trade for outfielder Milton Bradley. The Dodgers are believed to be willing to trade from the stockpile of young pitchers so treasured by former general manager Dan Evans.
The Cleveland Indians essentially threw Bradley off their team Thursday, one day after he failed to run out a fly ball and engaged in a dugout argument with Manager Eric Wedge, the latest in a series of incidents. The Indians ordered Bradley not to report back to camp, and Cleveland General Manager Mark Shapiro said he would trade him as soon as possible.
"I talk to Mark a couple times a week anyway," said Dodger General Manager Paul DePodesta, who formerly worked with Shapiro in the Indians' front office. "I'm sure I'll talk to him in the next couple days."
Bradley, 25, batted .321 in 101 games last season, with 34 doubles, 10 home runs, 17 stolen bases and a .421 on-base percentage. He is signed for $1.73 million this season. The Indians had planned to use the switch-hitter in the cleanup spot.
Bradley, who grew up in Los Angeles, received a three-day jail sentence in February, after failing to pull over when ordered by Ohio police last year. He also threw his helmet and bat toward an umpire last year and had on-field run-ins with Dodger catcher Paul Lo Duca and Yankee first baseman Jason Giambi.
Center fielder Dave Roberts, who would lose his job if the Dodgers acquired Bradley, teamed with him on the Indians. Roberts believes an outfield with him, Shawn Green and Juan Encarnacion will be sufficiently productive, but he said Bradley was not a bad guy.
"He's a heck of a ballplayer," Roberts said. "We get along great. He gets into situations he might regret afterward, but I don't think it's a reflection of him as a person. Sometimes he just acts in the heat of the moment."
After a second MRI examination and subsequent consultation with doctors Friday, reliever Paul Shuey has opted against surgery to repair the damaged tendon in his right thumb.
He will wait three weeks to see whether the injury heals with rest and immobilization, at least well enough to allow him to pitch. If it does, he would start a rehabilitation program that could require another three to five weeks, Manager Jim Tracy said.
If the injury does not heal, surgery would be required, and he would need another six to eight weeks of rehabilitation.
"It's a Catch-22," he said. "You could come back quicker, or it could set me back three weeks."
Lo Duca cut the middle finger of his right hand while opening a box Friday. Doctors glued the cut shut, Tracy said, and Lo Duca should be able to play today or Sunday in Anaheim, if only as the designated hitter. Lo Duca is not in danger of missing Monday's opener, Tracy said.
Angel reliever Brendan Donnelly will remain in Arizona until doctors determine that he has sufficiently recovered from complications stemming from a broken nose.
Donnelly, released from Scottsdale Memorial Hospital on Wednesday after undergoing surgery to cauterize blood vessels in his nose, cannot fly until receiving clearance from doctors, Manager Mike Scioscia said. Donnelly will be re-evaluated early next week.
Donnelly was hit on the nose by a batting-practice fly ball March 9 and suffered several setbacks after attempting to return a week later. He is expected to miss at least a month.
Reluctant Angel reliever Aaron Sele said he would not request a trade because "you never know how things are going to go in a baseball season. Most teams over the course of a year use six, seven, eight starters depending on what happens. We'll ride it out and see what happens."
The Angels used nine starters last season, a testament to the frailty of big-league rotations.
Pitching in relief Friday for the first time since he learned he would open the season in the bullpen, Sele failed to protect the Angels' 4-1 lead. He gave up a home run to Encarnacion in the sixth inning and allowed two runs in the seventh on a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly.
Manager Mike Scioscia acknowledged that Sele's adjustment would not be easy, especially considering the veteran has made one relief appearance in 11 seasons.
"You just don't see a guy that's started his whole career put in the bullpen and not have to go through some transition," Scioscia said. "[But] he's a professional and he'll do the best he can. We'll hopefully minimize the rough edges as we move forward."
Another Angel making a similar transition is Kevin Gregg, though he spent the entire 2001 season and part of 2002 pitching out of the bullpen in the Oakland Athletics' minor-league system. Gregg, expected to be a long reliever, said pitching exclusively in relief during spring training has eased his adjustment.
"I just want to be on the team," Gregg said. "Whether it's in the starting rotation or in the bullpen, either way for now is good."
Catcher Bengie Molina probably will be in the lineup for the Angels' season opener Tuesday against Seattle at Safeco Field even if he doesn't play during the Freeway Series, Scioscia said. Molina did not play Friday against the Dodgers and said he "bet we're not going to take any chances right now" by playing the remainder of the weekend.... Bartolo Colon, struck on the right shin Thursday by a line drive, continued to receive treatment but is expected to start Tuesday as scheduled.