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09/14/08 4:00 PM ET
Bradley needs at-bats for batting title
Slugger 29 appearances from qualifying; not starting Sunday
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
OAKLAND -- Rangers designated hitter Milton Bradley goes into the final two weeks of the season with a shot at winning the American League batting title, but he needs to be in the lineup a few more times -- and that is still a problem. Bradley, one day after being ejected from a game for the fourth time this season, was out of the lineup Sunday with a sore left wrist. Bradley injured the wrist swinging during Saturday's 7-1 loss. It's the 42nd time in 150 games Bradley has not been in the lineup because of a physical issue. "If he felt like he could get it done, he'd go out there," manager Ron Washington said. "But the way his wrist is, he doesn't feel he can go out there. I'm not going to push him. You have to leave it up to the individual. He doesn't feel he can get that wrist through the hitting zone." Bradley entered Sunday's game hitting .325, second in the AL behind Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who was at .329 entering Sunday. The problem is getting enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. Bradley has 473 plate appearances. A player, according to the rules, needs 502 at the end of the season to qualify for the batting title. That leaves Bradley 29 shy with just 12 games to go after Sunday's matchup. He also went into Sunday's game leading the AL in on-base percentage and ranking second in slugging percentage. There is another consideration. Bradley, who has already earned $750,000 in plate appearance bonuses to go with his $5.25 million contract, will earn another $525,000 if he reaches 500 plate appearances. But most of all, the Rangers want him out there because he's their cleanup hitter in a lineup that is already missing Ian Kinsler and David Murphy. "I'm not frustrated because I believe he wants to go out there," Washington said. "He just can't. I do believe if he could, he would. But if he can't, I'm not going to question it." Bradley would be the third Rangers player to win a batting title. Julio Franco led the league with a .341 average in 1991, and Michael Young led with a .331 average in 2005.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.