Bradley makes emotional return to Arizona

August 18th, 2021

PHOENIX -- Somewhere on his ride between the hotel and Chase Field, texted his fiancée and parents.

"I'm already getting a little emotional," he told them.

Once at the ballpark, Bradley headed to the visitors' clubhouse, where he put on his Phillies jersey and prepared to face the D-backs on Tuesday night for the first time in his career.

Bradley was selected by the D-backs with the seventh-overall pick in the 2011 Draft and made the first 249 appearances of his career with them beginning in 2015 until he was dealt to the Reds at the 2020 Trade Deadline.

After he signed with the Phillies during the offseason, Bradley quickly checked their 2021 schedule to see when he would be coming to Arizona to play the D-backs.

"I saw we were going to be out here, had an off-day, right after my birthday, and so I definitely circled this one," Bradley said. "My parents are here, my fiancée's here. I wanted them to be here, because like we talked about, there is so much in my life that I owe to this whole area. And so I wanted them to be here and be part of welcoming back here. It's exciting, but it's also bringing back a lot of memories. The business owner, the person, the man, the baseball player I became all started here."

With his signature beard and outgoing personality, Bradley became one of the D-backs' most popular players. His triple in the 2017 Wild Card Game against the Rockies and the ensuing emotion he showed after sliding into third base was commemorated the following year with a bobblehead.

That 2017 season was Bradley's best in Arizona, as he compiled a 2.73 ERA and an ERA+ of 273 as the D-backs advanced to the National League Division Series.

"I walked to [Ronald] Acuña Jr. to start the year on Opening Day and I got booed, and I was like, 'Man I'm not in AZ anymore,'" Bradley said with a laugh. "I don't think I ever got booed in Arizona. And then even two days ago I gave up the homer to lose the no-hitter and I got booed -- like hard. I think I've learned they expect a lot and if you don't perform, no matter who you are, except for maybe Bryce Harper, you're going to get booed. And I think I kind of like it. In a way, you know you have to check yourself and you can't get comfortable. You have to stay on your toes."