Piniella confronts Bradley, seeks change
Updated: June 27, 2009, 5:57 PM ET
Television producers and directors like to focus on Lou Piniella because the Cubs manager is often like an active volcano, his anger coming in discernible stages. You see it begin to boil in him, and then the smoke rises, and then, every so often, there is a spectacular eruption. He often wears his emotions on his face, a trait which masks the fact that most of the time, Piniella has a firm grasp of his responses. He will make choices about who to aim his anger at, and when to aim it. Alfonso Soriano is fully capable of fueling a manager's frustration because of his strikeouts, the free-swinging nature of his at-bats, his erratic defensive play and his discomfort with hitting anywhere but in the leadoff spot. But Piniella has never made an example of Soriano -- or the mercurial Carlos Zambrano, for that matter -- because he sees the big picture. Soriano can be sensitive, and if you attacked him verbally this might diminish the chance that he will have that inevitable six-week period when he puts you on his back with a flurry of home runs. If you attacked Zambrano, you risk angering and alienating the guy who is, on most days, the Cubs' best pitcher. Which brings us to Piniella's public undressing of Milton Bradley on Friday. The season isn't fully three months old yet and what Piniella has endured from Bradley so far has included the player's spat with one of Chicago's major newspapers, a suggestion from the outfielder that the umpires have it in for him, and, above all else, terrible production. Bradley's batting average slipped to .237 with his fly out in the sixth inning Friday, and when he became the latest Cub to take out his anger on an inanimate object in the dugout, it was right then -- with the Cubs leading -- that Piniella chose to make a point, chasing Bradley into the clubhouse and ordering him to take off his uniform. He could have ignored it and dealt with it in private, but Piniella probably was ready for a confrontation with a player who has so far produced far more headaches than production. He could have said nothing in his postgame press conference, but instead he laid out all the details on a platter for reporters. Piniella indicated that he is prepared to play Bradley today and/or Sunday. He's ready to turn the page. Time will tell on whether Bradley -- a smart person who can be very thoughtful and yet capable of perpetually fueling his own grudges -- can move on. Piniella clearly wants a change. Sweet Lou turned sour, writes Rick Telander. It's about time Piniella put Bradley in his place, writes Barry Rozner. Phil Rogers asks the question: Will tough love work on Bradley? Seldom has an offseason strategy blown up more than this one has, Phil writes within his piece. Before he went home in the middle of the game, Bradley told Paul Sullivan that he was looking for clubhouse camaraderie. But the players are in Lou's corner on this one, writes Chris De Luca. Rick Morrissey wonders what the Cubs should do about this situation. The Cubs have talked to the Indians about re-acquiring Mark DeRosa. • You got a sense in the eighth inning Friday of how quickly Jake Fox is making his presence felt for the Cubs. • The White Sox lost, and Ozzie Guillen didn't like the at-bat that A.J. Pierzynski had off the bench.
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