INDIANAPOLIS — In Chicago, talented but troubled OF Milton Bradley had issues with teammates, fans, media and team management.
A premise of the Rays' interest is that Bradley wouldn't have such issues playing in a less pressurized environment.
And that theory received a strong endorsement Monday from none other than Cubs manager Lou Piniella, the Tampa native and resident who used to manage the Rays.
"I would think that a different environment would help him immensely," he said. "And I think a place like Tampa Bay would be a place where he could flourish."
The Cubs are trying to trade Bradley, given an expansive list of conflicts that makes his return to Chicago seem all but impossible. The Rays are considered among the most interested, along with the Rangers, but are only going to do the deal — which includes a trade of disappointing DH Pat Burrell — if their financial commitment to Bradley is reduced, and they appear willing to wait.
Burrell and Bradley make $9 million in 2010, but Bradley has a $13 million salary in 2011 and a potential $2 million in incentives over the two years. The Cubs haven't appeared willing to pay a substantial amount of the $15 million difference, making it more likely it will require at least a third team to make a deal happen.
Piniella said Bradley, who hit .257 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs while playing in 124 games between incidents, can do better.
"He got off to a rough start, which didn't help him," Piniella said, "but he's a talented young man that should bounce back and have a good year."
Ron Washington, who managed Bradley in Texas during his All-Star 2008 season, is also confident of a comeback. "Without a doubt," he said. "He still has a lot of productivity in him."
Comeback trail: Former Rays LHP Nick Bierbrodt is hoping to make a comeback. Bierbrodt, 31, last pitched in the majors in 2004 with Texas and has been in independent leagues for the past four seasons.
"I hope it's a comeback," Bierbrodt said. "I'm in better shape than when I played (in the majors). I'm just looking for a tryout, a minor-league invite."
Bierbrodt is living in Colorado with the widow and children of former Rays pitcher Joe Kennedy, who died in November 2007 of a heart condition.
Other Rays seen in the lobby: RHP Joe Nelson, who is looking for a big-league deal, and OF George Lombard, who is seeking a player development job.
Walk of fame: Manager Whitey Herzog and umpire Doug Harvey were voted into the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee. Falling short again — on a separate ballot for executives and pioneers — was former players union head Marvin Miller.
Around the Majors: RHP Brad Penny reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the Cardinals worth $7.5 million, plus $1.5 million in incentives. … LHP Andy Pettitte decided he wants to pitch again in 2010 and opened negotiations with the Yankees. RHP Brian Bruney was traded from the Yankees to the Nationals. … SS Adam Everett re-signed with the Tigers. … LHP Randy Wolf is close to a three-year deal with the Brewers. … Yahoo reported that C Pudge Rodriguez agreed to a two-year deal with the Nationals. … Three free agents accepted arbitration: RHPs Rafael Soriano (Braves), Carl Pavano (Twins) and Rafael Betancourt (Rockies).