Bradley: Race an issue in flap with Kent

Bradley: Race an issue in flap with Kent

LOS ANGELES -- Three days after Saturday's confrontation between second baseman Jeff Kent and center fielder Milton Bradley, the dust has yet to settle in the Dodgers clubhouse.

Speaking prior to Tuesday's game against the Colorado Rockies, Bradley said Kent was not a team leader and lacked the ability to deal with black players.

"The problem is that he doesn't know how to deal with African-American people," Bradley said. "There's a pattern of things that have been said. There are things said off-the-cuff that I don't think are funny. I think it may be funny to him or Jeff Foxworthy. But it's not funny to Milton Bradley.

"Me being an African-American is the most important thing to me, even more important than baseball. There's always race. White people never want to see race in anything. But there's race involved in baseball. That's why there's less than 9 percent African-American representation in the game. I'm one of the few African-Americans that starts here."

Kent initially did not want to discuss Bradley or the issues between them.

"I know you guys want to color a he-said, she-said article, and I won't contribute," he said.

However, when told about Bradley's assertion that Kent did not know how to deal with African-Americans, Kent commented briefly.

"He can go ahead and say those types of things, and it comes from an incident that he still doesn't get. And that's a shame," Kent said. "If you think that I've got a problem with African-Americans, then go talk to Dusty Baker. Go talk to Dave Winfield, who took me under his wing. Go talk to Joe Carter -- all the guys that I idolized in this game and all the veteran players who taught me how to play this game.

"That's a shame, and I take offense to that. That's just absolutely pathetic if it comes from his mouth."

Dodgers general manager Paul DePodesta issued the following statement after the game, an 8-3 victory for Los Angeles:

"Everyone at the Los Angeles Dodgers is committed to winning. It has been a frustrating season for all of us and our fans, as we have dealt with plenty of adversity. We have a talented team of passionate players who take their performance, as well as the team's performance, personally. Under the circumstances, it is not unusual for players' emotions to run high. However, if and when any issue arises that runs contrary to the goals and values of the organization, there should be no question that we address it."

Tuesday's remarks can be traced back to Saturday, when Kent reportedly confronted Bradley about his lack of hustle -- specifically pertaining to Bradley not attempting to score from first base on Kent's seventh-inning double in a rally that led to an 11-6 victory over the Marlins.

"As far as I'm concerned, the only guy in here that can tell me how to play the game is Jim Tracy, because he's the manager," Bradley said Tuesday.

Bradley also questioned the leadership skills of Kent, a quiet clubhouse presence.

"I was told I was the team leader by Paul DePodesta, Jim Tracy and Frank McCourt," Bradley said. "If you want to be a team leader, you have to associate with the team. You can't have your locker in the corner [of the clubhouse], and put your headphones on and read your motocross magazine. As far as off the field, he has no clue about leadership."

For his part, Tracy said that he believes Bradley is mistaken in his comments that Kent cannot deal with African-Americans.

"I don't think that Jeff Kent is particular at all as to who it would be if he's got something to say," he said.

Tracy said he met with both players separately Monday and he is hopeful a full resolution can be reached. The manager also held a 40-minute team meeting prior to Monday's game.

"One of the things I touched on [Monday] with the entire group was that there have been any number of teammates that might not go out to dinner [with each other], but they went out and played great together," Tracy said. "You don't have to like every single guy that you're playing with, so long as when 7 o'clock rolls around, you're focused on the same thing."

And, despite his criticism of Kent, Bradley agrees with that much.

"Jeff Kent is the best option around at second base," he said, "so why wouldn't I want to be on a team with him?"

Mark Thoma is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.