Spring Training II: Milton Bradley

So, we’ve been taking a million pictures at Mariners Spring Training this week.  I’ve been debating how to write up our experiences.

Chronologically by day?

Nah…too many pictures for some days and not many at all for others.

By experience (or groupings of experiences)?

Okay, let’s give that a shot.

First up, the Milton Bradley experience.

The first week or two of Spring Training are the best.  Games haven’t started yet.  Its just practice.  The Mariners have 6.5 practice fields.  During most of Spring Training, the big leaguers practice on the two least accessible practice fields.  But during the first couple weeks, the big league camp spends most of its time on the four most fan accessible fields.

A couple days ago, the Mariners stretched, played catch, ran defensive drills, and then broke into hitting groups.  Groups rotated between four practice fields — M3 through M6:

1 - BP diagram.jpg

M3 – batters tried to get hits off of pitchers, but the pitchers played hard to get;

M4 – pitchers threw their “bullpen” sessions on the field as batters stood in and tracked the pitches and baserunners practiced leading off of second and breaking for third base;

M5 – batters took traditional BP while baserunners practiced leading off of third base and breaking for home plate; and

M6 – traditional BP, no baserunning.

Here is a peak at M3 with Brendan Ryan in the cage (I cannot recall or identify who was pitching):

2 - live BP.JPGAt the beginning of the rotation process, Tim, Kellan, Colleen, my mom, and I watched live BP on M3.  The first batter was Milton Bradley who faced Chris Seddon.  Bradley’s first two swings hit the right centerfield fence on the fly.  His third swing almost took out Seddon on the mound.  After a couple more random hits, Seddon’s final pitch to Bradley was hard and inside.  Milton swung defensively and helplessly (and sarcastically) yelled “Get off me!” as he hit a weak can of corn into the grass just behind second base.

I could tell Milton cracked his bat on the swing.  He immediately went to his duffle bag and swapped out bats (each player brings two bats from the clubhouse to the practice field).  I took a mental note.

My mom, Colleen and Kellan generally stayed put at M3.  But Tim and I shifted around and watched some of the action on each of the fields.

On M4, Tim and I stood just behind Ichiro and watched him sit on a bucket and swing a weighted bat as he prepared to not take some hacks at the plate…

3 - no swing BP.jpg…all the while Michael Saunders and his group practiced getting a jump from second to third base.  When Milton Bradley’s group was at this station, I noticed he was using a bat with athletic tape around the middle.  I figured it was probably the bat he cracked against Seddon.  (By the way, Seddon really settled down and missed a lot of bats after Bradley’s first round).

On M5, Ichiro and his group got jumps from third toward home plate as other guys took BP:

4 - BP and baserunning.JPGFinally, on M6, we watched Ichiro take some hacks (as shown in a video clip in our last entry):

5 - more BP.JPGThe rotations were timed and after…oh, maybe 15-20 minutes…one of the coaches would call out “rotate” and then all of the players would run through the public grass to their next station:

6 - Round-and-Round.JPGAbove, Brendan Ryan, Mike Carp, Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley, Matt Mangini and others run past me from M6 into M3.

We had planned to leave at 11:30 a.m. to head down to Chase Field for a tour.  We started to leave — we made it out to the sandy/rocky area beyond the OF wall at M3.  But then we decided to push off Chase Field until later in the week.

When we got back to the area between the four home plates, Kellan and I looked around for Milton Bradley, but we couldn’t find him anywhere:

7 - looking looking.JPGWe milled around a bit…

           
8 - maybe over here.JPG    
Thumbnail image for 9 - hmmm.JPG

…and all of a sudden I saw Milton enter M3 coming from M4.  (By the way, that’s Tim in the red and blue in front of Kellan and me in the picture above to the right).  Players were starting to pack up and head back to the clubhouse.

As Milton headed toward his duffle bag, Kellan and I took off (my mom and Colleen had no clue what was going on, but they followed us)…

            10 - plan in motion.JPG    

11 - Excuse me Milton.JPG

…and rounded the corner of M3’s 1B dugout.  There is a gate just past the dugout and I was hoping it would be open.  As you can see in the picture above to the right, it was.  As Kellan and I arrived at the open gate, we saw Milton pack up his duffle bag and start to walk toward the RF corner (where players exit the field to return to the clubhouse).

Todd:  “Hey, Milton!”

[Milton looks over and sees us.  He veers over in our direction.]

Todd:  “Hi, Milton.  Hey, is there any chance my boy can get your broken bat?”

Milton:  “What’s he gonna do with it?”

Todd:  “Hang it on his bedroom wall.”

[Deeming this a worthy response, Milton extracts a bat from his bag and hands it to me and starts to walk off.]

Todd:  “Thanks, Milton!!!”

            12 - bat for my boys wall.JPG    
13 - bat switcheroo.JPG

[I start to walk away with the bat and a great big smile.]

Milton:  “Hold up!  Is that the broken bat?”

I didn’t hear him.  But my mom pointed me back to Milton.

Lo-and-behold, Milton had given me the wrong bat.  Above to the right, we made the switch.  Now, I had the bat with the tape around the middle that he’d been using on M4.

In the next picture, I guess we’re examining the bat:

14 - examinign bat.JPGI figured, hey, let’s add to the goodness.  So I asked Milton if he’d sign the bat.

Sure he would:

            16 - joking about getting a picture.JPG    
17 - reaching.JPG.

You know, Milton has a terrible reputation.  But I invite you to click on these pictures to enlarge them.  As he was signing the autograph, he has a big huge smile on his face.  He was very pleasant in our little interaction.

As he signed the bat, I added:

Todd:  “Hey, could we get a picture too?”

Milton:  “Hey, you got me here, why not?”

So we turned toward my mom and Colleen (who both had cameras out and trained on us).

As they snapped away at the pictures, Kellan grabbed at Milton’s hat:

18 - and reaching.JPGI had no clue what was going on becaue Kellan was essentially behind me.  But all of a sudden, everyone started laughing — my mom, Colleen, Milton and a crowd of people who had gathered to watch.

Milton had taken off his hat and put in on Kellan’s head:

19 - put a lid on it.JPGKellan was lost in a sea of Milton Bradley hat…

            20 - lid.JPG    
22 - still struggling.JPG.

…as Milton and I smiled for the cameras:

24 - struggling with hat.JPGBy the way, yes.  I am holding Kellan in these pictures (with my unseen left hand).

After more “thank yous” to Milton, we split up and started celebrating Kellan’s awesome new bat:

23 - Hooray.JPGWe tried to get a family picture, but Tim didn’t want to jump in with us:

25 - Happy bat owners.JPGBut a few minutes later, after the rest of the players left the field, Tim was more than happy to wield Kellan’s new lumber for this picture:

26 - carry a big stick.JPGSo, it was an awesome interaction and experience with Milton Bradley.  Many, many thanks to Milton!  He was incredibly nice, and not just becuase he gave us the bat.  He seemed like a very nice and genuine guy.  We’ll be pulling for Milton to have a comeback season in 2011.

Anyway, check out the bat closeup:

27 - Milton Bradleys C331.jpg

UPDATE:

We had to mail the bat home because we couldn’t carry it onto the airplane.  Its finally here and hanging on Kellan’s wall.  Here is what it looks like now:

Miltons Bat Kellans Wall.JPGThanks again, Milton!

8 Comments

Hi! I just want to say that I really like your blog, the pictures are great! I love the Stadiums panoramas, those were great posts! Now, you look like you guys are having fun at the spring trainning, and it was pretty cool of Bradley to give you the bat and the photos!
So, I just I want to know that, if it’s not too much to ask, if ever see Dan Cortes, could you take a picture of him? pitching or not. I am a fan since I saw him pitch here in Venezuela, so it will be nice to know how he’s doing there!
Well, thanks and I can’t wait for the next post!

P.s. You have a lovely family!

That last photo of you, Colleen, and Kellan is a little deceiving. I thought her purse was baseball-oriented but now I realize it’s just your glove hanging on it. That would be a cool gift idea for her though. I’d even let you take all the credit! Just kidding. Have fun bro, I’m jealous!

Brian
http://txbaseballfan.mlblogs.com

Fantastic moments! I’ll definitely root for Milton Bradley this season! Hope this season will be the chance for his real comeback.
http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2011_03_01_texmlb_seamlb_1

Wow, the photo with Milton with your son wearing his hat is one of the cutest things I have seen in a while. What a great family memory! I’ve heard the stories too and it’s nice to hear something so positive about Milton Bradley. I hope he has a successful season and gets to really enjoy the game this year.
Kristen
http://blithescribe.mlblogs.com/

Haha, that’s a great interaction with Milton. It’s weird, I remember just walking around those exact empty fields this summer, and on m6 where Ichiro batted, there was a dead rat on homeplate. I’m assuming that rats gone by now. You guys planning on hitting up citi in april?
Joe

Great photo’s and Bradley story. The guy has a bad rep, but little things like that bat and picture can make fans for life.
http://wrigleyregular.mlblogs.com/

Milton does have a bad rap in the Majors. But you know? He is actually a very nice guy. Of all the times Ive had encounters with him he has always treated me nice.

He tossed me two baseballs last year. One at Kauffman, and one at Busch.

His major complaint is when the fans heckle him, he takes it to heart.

SWAMIMARIANA-
Glad to hear you’re enjoying our pictures. Yeah, I’m a big fan of the panoramas. Glad you like them. I have a whole bunch of them coming soon from the tour we just recently took at Chase Field. Not sure when they will be ready, but soon. I looked through my Spring Training picts and I didn’t get any good picts of Cortes. I saw him a lot but just get anything good of him. I’ll ask my parents to snap a pict of him and see if I can post something for you.

BRIAN-
Ha! Yeah, no baseball purse for Colleen. While I’d like to see Colleen with a Trap-Eze purse, I don’t think its high on her list.

NAO-
Let’s hope! He’s had his troubles. But he’s also shown he can be an all-star caliber major leaguer. Hopefully he can find some piece of mind personally and his power stroke professionally in 2011.

KRISTEN-
Thanks for the nice comments about my family. That would be great if Milton puts it all together in 2011. Let’s hope!

JOE-
Great to hear from you, sir. No rats now-a-days on M6. April is still somewhat up in the air. I can tell you we won’t be at Citi during the first three weeks of the season. We already have other plans those weeks. Maybe at the end of the month. We’re looking at one game at Citi in June and probably another in September. Also looking at a Mariners game in the Bronx.

RUSSELW-
Agreed!

WAYNE-
This was our first interaction with Milton. Because of his reputation in the media, I didn’t know what to expect when I called his name. But he was extremely nice during our interaction. I’ve also seen some interviews with him where he has seemed like a really nice guy. Obviously, he has some issues he’s had to work through (and maybe still is working through them), but we’re certainly wishing him the best.

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