Bradley struggling to deal with adversity

Bradley struggling with adversity

CHICAGO -- Milton Bradley said life's been tough.

After Tuesday's game, the Cubs outfielder said he relishes time with his family because they're supportive "in spite of everything and all the adversity and hatred you face on a daily basis."

Asked on Wednesday to clarify the "hatred" he's dealt with, Bradley didn't limit it to bleacher fans at Wrigley Field.

"I'm talking about hatred, period," Bradley said. "I'm talking about when I go to eat at a restaurant, I've got to listen to the waiters bad-mouthing me at another table, sitting in a restaurant. That's what I'm talking about. Everything.

"All I'm saying is I pray the game is nine innings, so I can go out there the least amount of time possible and go home."

There have been Cubs players in the past, such as Jacque Jones and LaTroy Hawkins, who have spoken of racist comments by fans at Wrigley. Bradley apparently has to deal with more than just baseball fans upset at the Cubs or his performance this season.

Are things that bad?

"It's not an issue," Bradley said. "It's nothing brand new. It's nothing that just started when Milton Bradley came here. It's the same stuff you wrote about at the beginning of the year. It's not like it's a surprise or a shock or brand new to me or anyone else, you know what I'm saying? That's the way it's been. It's not a brand-new story. There's nothing new to write about."

Except no one has talked about any problems publicly.

Does Bradley regret coming to Chicago and the Cubs?

"I don't regret anything," he said. "I regret that there are idiots in the world, that's what I regret."

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry had not spoken to Bradley, but felt his comments may be the result of frustration over a disappointing season. Bradley went 4-for-4 on Tuesday, and hit his second homer in as many games on Wednesday in the Cubs' 9-4 win over the Washington Nationals. He drove in three runs, the most since he knocked in four May 25 against Pittsburgh.

After Wednesday's game, the right fielder was batting .259 with 11 homers and 35 RBIs overall, and was hitting .290 in August. That's a big improvement over his .118 April.

"I'm the same guy," Bradley said. "Same guy I was in Spring Training, same guy I was last year. Same guy. Baseball ain't easy, so there ain't no guarantees just because you did something the year before you're going to do it again. You've got to play the game every day. They're going to do something different to try to get you out and you have to adjust to it."

Does he feel support from the fans?

"I feel love from me," Bradley said. "I love me. I look in the mirror and I go out there and play and feel the love from my teammates, feel it from the coaching staff and from myself."

They all know what happens when a team, or a player, doesn't meet expectations.

"When you have high expectations, it's the way the world is today in professional sports -- when you don't produce, you're going to get some criticism that comes with it," Hendry said. "We all live in that world.

"You just have to roll with it and do the best you can and try not to let it affect you."

Bradley had an exchange of words with some fans in San Diego on the Cubs trip, and Hendry said Lou Piniella and the Cubs coaches talked to the outfielder after the incident.

"People come to the ballpark here at Wrigley, and they come here to cheer you and support you," Piniella said. "When you're struggling as a team, or as an individual, there's a small fraction of fans who will show their displeasure.

"For the most part, the people who come here are very supportive. You can't please all of them all the time. You try, but you can't. We have good fans here. I've been here three years and this place here, the fans support you as well as anywhere I've been. You're going to hear some boos sometimes, there's no question about it. You've got to be able to not pay attention to those things and if you can do that, I think your life is a lot easier."

Piniella said he hadn't heard anything from the players about fans crossing the line and making their comments personal. His suggestion was to block out the negativity.

"Well, during the heat of the battle, sometimes it's not the easiest thing in the world to do, but at the same time, if you can train yourself to do that, you're going to be way ahead of the game," Piniella said. "Some fans can test you a little bit. If you don't pay attention to them, it usually quiets them down than if you give them a little reaction."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.