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09/07/08 2:42 PM ET
Washington wants Bradley back in '09
Skipper confident that outfielder will get stronger in offseason
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are going to have a glut of outfielders to sort through in the offseason, and manager Ron Washington wants Milton Bradley to be one of them. Bradley can become a free agent this offseason, and even though health issues have kept him from being in the lineup every day, Washington wants him back in 2009. "Yes, I do," Washington said before Sunday's game with the Red Sox. "He's been great here and he's been great in the clubhouse. I think our medical staff has done an excellent job of keeping him on the field with what he's been going through. When things flare up, you deal with it." Bradley was out of the lineup on Sunday with a sore left wrist. Washington said he's been bothered by it for "about a week" and he finally came out of the lineup on Saturday. Washington gave him Sunday off and said Bradley should be ready to go on Tuesday in Seattle. Bradley went into Sunday's game hitting .327, second-highest in the American League, with 22 home runs and 74 RBIs in 379 at-bats. He has been out of the starting lineup in 37 of 144 games because of various injuries. Most of Bradley's problems have been with his legs, and Washington said that's related to undergoing surgery almost a year ago due to a torn ligament in his right knee. Bradley spent last offseason in rehabilitation, and probably shouldn't have been playing until May. Washington said this offseason will be different for Bradley. Washington said Bradley should be able to concentrate on strengthening his legs instead of going through rehabilitation. That should allow Bradley to return to the outfield, Washington said. Bradley has played just 20 games in the outfield this season and hasn't been out there since July 21. The Rangers have limited him to designated hitter duty since then to keep his bat in the lineup but they are hoping he can play the outfield next year. "I know he can go back to the outfield," Washington said. "He doesn't have to worry about that ACL operation. He made it through this year -- now all he has to do is get stronger. His leg problems were from the operation. But Milton doesn't have to prove anything to me. He can play the outfield. He's a complete player." That's why the manager wants him back. "Nothing is 100 percent certain, but I know he wants to be back and I know we want him here," Washington said. "It's a matter of how it gets done."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.