Bradley making most of life as a big leaguer

D-backs reliever thrills crowds at NHL, ASU basketball arenas

January 4th, 2018

PHOENIX -- In the span of a week in December, D-backs reliever slid across the ice at an Arizona Coyotes NHL game and dressed up as Santa Claus for a skit with Arizona State University students as part of their famed "Curtain of Distraction" at an NCAA men's basketball game.

The appearances showed the fun-loving side of Bradley, who had a breakout season for the D-backs in 2017, compiling a 1.73 ERA in 63 games as the team's top setup man.

"Being involved and being a part of a community," Bradley said of his exploits. "I love Arizona, and I love doing stuff like that."

Bradley was at the Coyotes game as part of a friend's bachelor party and was asked to participate in a contest between periods.

Drafted seventh overall out of high school in 2011, Bradley never got to attend college. He had committed to playing quarterback for the University of Oklahoma before the D-backs offered him a $5 million signing bonus.

So when he was invited to attend a basketball game at ASU and play a part in trying to distract the opposing players at the free-throw line, the 25-year-old jumped at the chance.

"To see that arena and how loud it is, I mean I didn't go to college so it's kind of like my college experience to be with those kids," Bradley said.

Taking advantage of the opportunities that have been presented to him as a Major Leaguer is nothing new for Bradley.

When the D-backs visit a new stadium on the road, it's not uncommon to see Bradley in the upper deck long before the gates open taking a picture for his collection.

Two years ago, he asked to meet and take pictures with legendary broadcasters Bob Uecker and Vin Scully.

"I'm just this kid from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and I'm pitching in playoff games, I'm meeting Vin Scully and Bob Uecker, I'm on the tour bus with [singer] Jake Owen, I'm doing the 'Curtain of Distraction,' and look, it's not because of my personality or that I'm a great guy," Bradley said. "I get those opportunities because of baseball. And I realize that, and I want to take advantage of it.

"I'm one season away, I'm one pitch away from being done or having a bad year, and that stuff can go away quick. For me, I don't want to sit back. I want to take advantage of it and do things. When my career is over, I want to be able to look back and be like, 'Man, look at what you were able to do, not only baseball-wise, but the people I met, the memories I made, the experiences I had.'"

Bradley knows that should he have a bad season, some will criticize him for doing too much off the field.

"I'm not afraid of that," he said. "I know I'm doing what I have to do to be ready for the baseball season. So, I'm essentially having my cake and eating it too. The reason I'm able to do this stuff is because I'm prepared, because I'm ready to go. And I'm just not afraid to deal with the backlash if I don't perform."