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Bradley humbled by All-Star selection

Bradley humbled by All-Star selection

BALTIMORE -- Milton Bradley was playing dominoes with teammates before the Rangers' game with the Orioles on Sunday when manager Ron Washington called him into the office.

Washington told Bradley he was going to the All-Star Game. Then, Washington gave Bradley a big hug. It was the kind of hug that a father gives his son in a proud moment, the kind that Bradley never received from a father while growing up in Southern California.

"For 30 years, I always imagined what a father-son moment would be like," Bradley said quietly in the Rangers' clubhouse. "That was it. That meant a lot coming from Wash."

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So does making the All-Star team for the first time in his nine-year career. Bradley doesn't often speak to the media and he said on Sunday he couldn't describe what it meant to be selected to the All-Star team.

But of the four Rangers selected -- Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young and Bradley -- he was the most eloquent and passionate in describing what the moment meant to him.

"A few months ago, I never imagined this opportunity," Bradley said. "It's about as humbling and fulfilling and as special a feeling as you can get. For a few weeks, I've been asked the question about going to the All-Star Game and I've shrugged it off. You think you have a chance, but I never imagined it would happen to me."

Bradley, who is hitting .320 with 17 home runs and 54 RBIs while leading the league with a .439 on-base percentage and a .605 slugging percentage, was selected to the team by his fellow players, receiving the highest number of votes at the designated hitter position.

"No matter what image I've portrayed or I put out there, I've always felt like I've never really fit, never had the respect," Bradley said. "But to have my fellow players recognize me, it means I'm finally getting that respect."

David Ortiz was voted by the fans as the starting designated hitter, but he is unable to play because of a wrist injury. Bradley will replace him in the starting lineup, joining Hamilton, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and others.

Bradley left Sunday's game after three plate appearances with tendinitis in his left knee, but that's only a day-to-day proposition. That will hardly keep him out of the All-Star Game.

"Starting in the same lineup as A-Rod and Jeter, you never think about that," Bradley said. "You have your goals and your dreams and your wildest dreams are being on the same field as A-Rod. It's a magical experience. No matter what people say, they're putting All-Star by my name. It's good to be recognized for something positive.

"All the injuries, all the suspensions, all the bad press, there was always a glimmer of positivity. Some people wanted to see it, some people did not. Maybe I didn't deserve it. Maybe I still don't deserve it but the guys I competed against saw it. So all the trash talking, bashing, injuries, surgeries, rehab, it was all worth it to get this chance. It's special."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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