Milton Bradley, Mr. Stability: Who knew?

Milton Bradley is one of just two Mariners starting in the same defensive position today as in last year's Opening Day lineup for the Mariners. (Photo by Greg Johns/MLB.com)

Today’s Opening Day lineup for the Mariners already was announced yesterday by Eric Wedge, but it’s interesting comparing the starting nine with last year’s group.

Only four of the same batters are back in the lineup again and just two — the ever-dependable Ichiro and, yes, Milton Bradley — are in the same defensive positions.

To fully grasp the transition underway with the Mariners, go back one more year to 2009 and all nine Opening Day position players are different than today’s lineup, though that’s slightly misleading because Ichiro was on the disabled list to start that season with a stomach ulcer.

On the flip side, Franklin Gutierrez did start on Opening Day in ’09, and is only missing today because of his own stomach issues.

The one true constant has been Felix Hernandez, who’ll be making his third straight Opening Day start today and fourth overall. But just for fun, check out the Opening Day lineups from the previous two years compared with today.

2011 Opening Day lineup
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Chone Figgins 3B
Milton Bradley LF
Jack Cust DH
Justin Smoak 1B
Miguel Olivo C
Ryan Langerhans CF
Brendan Ryan SS
Jack Wilson 2B
Felix Hernandez P

2010 Opening Day lineup
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Chone Figgins 2B
Casey Kotchman 1B
Milton Bradley LF
Ken Griffey Jr. DH
Jose Lopez 3B
Franklin Gutierrez CF
Rob Johnson C
Jack Wilson SS
Felix Hernandez P

2009 Opening Day lineup
Endy Chavez LF
Franklin Gutierrez CF
Mike Sweeney DH
Adrian Beltre 3B
Ken Griffey Jr. RF
Jose Lopez 2B
Russell Branyan 1B
Kenji Johjima C
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Felix Hernandez P

4 Comments

Thank you Mr. Johns.

Fred, you asked yesterday after Milton Bradley’s position. The simple answer is — as noted in this post — he’s back in the same spot as last year for Opening Day and that in itself says something on this team in transition. Regarding his off-field issues, he maintained a low profile in camp this year, was friendly with the fans and was supportive of Eric Wedge despite their prior run-in. Most importantly, his bat looked quicker and he hit well enough to be put back in the middle of a batting order that needs his help.

How well will things play out in the long haul of the season. That of course is the $12 million question. And only time will tell on that one.

-Greg

Mr. Johns: You are truly doing a wonderful job. Jim Street was dear to a bunch of us over the years, but your things are (how to say this just right?) skilled writing, better reporting, very knowledgeable, and right on from a human standpoint. Along that same line, I wish only the best for Milton Bradley, Erik Bedard, and others for whom life seems to have played a little too much hardball at times. I certainly shan’t cast the first stone. Thanks, over and out.

Fred, thanks for the kind words. I am long-time friends with Jim Street and greatly respect the job he did covering the Mariners for many, many years. I’m not about to get into comparing my work to his, I’m just trying to continue the excellent coverage and do the best I can. Much appreciate you reading and responding. It will indeed be interesting to see how things play out with Bedard and Bradley this season.

-Greg

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