OF Sam Bradford (Getty Images)
InsidethePark.com's Joseph A. Yencich caught up with Wisconsin Timber Rattler outfielder Samuel Bradford, Jr. and got to know a little bit about the Georgia native. Check out what the Gardner-Webb University product had to say about being drafted, switch-hitting, and what he believes is his best attribute as a ballplayer.
InsideThePark: How did you get into baseball?
Sam Bradford, Jr: I guess, in general, it was just a way of life, starting when I was five years old. Everyone in the neighborhood was doing it, and I kind of picked it up.
ITP: How did you learn how to switch-hit?
Bradford, Jr: Actually, I just learned a year and a half ago. I was fooling around in the cage, just messing around, swinging from the left-side and one of the coaches said “Hey, he’s pretty quick!” so I just took it to the field and started swinging.
ITP: What do you believe your strongest asset is on the field?
Bradford, Jr: I guess the speed. That would definitely be the biggest part of it.
ITP: What aspect of your game would you like to work on for the coming season?
Bradford, Jr: Switch-hitting, and becoming more of a hitter left-handed. Right now I’m a bit of a free-swinger from that side, and I want to improve on that.
ITP: Where do you think you’ll end up in the outfield this season?
Bradford, Jr: I think right now I’m going to split-time between center field and right field.
ITP: You’ve also pitched a bit during your career. How did you decide between pitching and playing outfield?
Bradford, Jr: I definitely wanted to swing a bat, and I knew that if I got drafted as a pitcher I wouldn’t be able to do that anymore, so I decided to pursue the position player aspect of the game.
ITP: Draft day, 2003: How did you find out that you had been drafted and what was that like?
Bradford, Jr: I was sitting by the phone, like anyone would have on draft day. Finally, the phone rang, and I picked it up, and it was probably one of the most exciting times in my life.
ITP: What memories do you have of your time last year in Peoria and Everett?
Bradford, Jr: I guess, just getting to see the different levels in play. You don’t see that as much in high school and college. Getting to see the raw talent and guys working. It gives you a better idea of what you should be doing and how you need to improve your game. And of course, people asking for autographs.
ITP: What was it like to come up from the minor league camp to play in a cactus league game, and get a hit with the big league camp?
Bradford, Jr: You just step into the parks, and going down the tunnel, you don’t hear any noise at first, nothing like on TV or the radio. To start out with I swung at the first pitch, and then I had to step back a bit and think it through again. When I did get that hit, it was like an explosion. One of the greatest moments of my life. I talked to some of the guys down there too, Randy Winn’s a good guy. I actually had to borrow Ben Davis’ helmet when I went up to bat because most of the other switch-hitters had left by that time.
ITP: If you weren’t playing baseball professionally right now, what would you be doing?
Bradford, Jr: I’d be finishing up school of course, working on my degree, business administration, with a minor in accounting. I’d probably be preparing for grad school.
ITP: Anything else Mariners fans should know about Sam Bradford?
Bradford, Jr: No, I guess that’s about it, unless they want to know about the nightlife (laughs).
ITP: Good luck with the upcoming season. The Midwest League is rough on hitters.
Bradford, Jr: Yeah, that’s what I’ve heard, but they tell me if you can make it through the first month and adjust, you can make it through the rest of the season.
InsideThePark.com thanks Samuel Bradford, Jr. for taking the time to visit with us.