Milton Bradley is getting comfortable with the thought of playing for the Seattle Mariners and with one of his childhood idols.

"Some of the things that happen to you in your life as a baseball player are kind of surreal to you, and getting to play with Ken Griffey Jr. is one of them," Bradley told the Seattle Times. "There's only two guys that I wanted an autograph from in my life, and that's Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Bonds. I got to meet both of them and get their autograph and spend some time [with them]. So, it's been surreal and just an absolute blast for me."

Bradley, who has a .371 on-base average and an .821 OPS over a 10-year career, was traded to the Mariners from the Cubs last week in exchange for Carlos Silva.

LaPorta proud to have college degree: Matt LaPorta has finished his degree in recreation and event planning at the University of Florida.

"It was important, because it was unfinished business," LaPorta told MLB.com. "I went to school for four years. It was right there for me to take hold of it and graduate. It wasn't something out of reach. Baseball might not always be around for me. I need my education to fall back on."

Javier Lopez wants to pile up the innings: Javier Lopez believes pitching for the Pirates provides a chance to shed the "specialist" tag that sometimes limits the roles left-handed relievers can play.

"I look forward to that type of role," Lopez told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "That was yet another reason why Pittsburgh seemed like a great place. I knew the opportunity was there to pitch not only to multiple batters, but maybe multiple innings. I was able to show that in Pawtucket this year, going three innings twice."

Atkins preparing to play regularly in Baltimore: Garrett Atkins was steered to Baltimore by the opportunity to play regularly.

"That was definitely the No. 1 factor in his decision-making process -- the opportunity to play," his agent, Jeff Blank, told MLB.com. "Also, [he was] looking at other variables -- good lineup, good organization, nice ballpark -- but opportunity to play was very important to him, because some of the other teams saw him more as a guy that could be first base, third base, DH-type, kind of moving around. Whereas in Baltimore, he'll probably have a set position and be a guy that's an everyday starter, and that was very important to him."

Loe returns from Japan: Returning from a one-year stint with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in Japan, Kameron Loe is returning to the U.S. with a chance to pitch for the Brewers.

Loe, 28, agreed to a Minor League contract and will compete for a rotation job in Spring Training. He pitched in the Majors with the Rangers from 2004-08 and has a 4.77 ERA over 107 appearances, including 47 starts but opted to play in Japan last season.

"It gave me an opportunity to secure my family, and I couldn't give that up," Loe told MLB.com. "I'm very excited to be back. It's always been my dream to be a Major League player, and Japan was cool, but I never grew up wanting to be a Japanese Major Leaguer.

"It was fun and frustrating and a whole lot of other things all rolled into one, but I'm really glad I did it. It was a chance to see another country and continue playing baseball. It's something I'd consider again later in my career, but right now I want to see what I can do in the Major Leagues."

Mendoza puts on strong showing in Mexico: The Rangers are noticing Luis Mendoza's strong performance in the Mexican Winter League.

"It's been good," Rangers farm director Scott Servais told MLB.com. "He's been pretty consistent, and the stuff is good. He's throwing strikes."

Through 12 starts, he's 6-3 with a 2.76 ERA in 78 1/3 innings. He leads the league in innings pitched and is second in both strikeouts (70) and ERA.

LaRoche hopeful for return to Braves: Free agent Adam LaRoche hasn't heard anything from the Braves despite his strong performance after coming to the club at the trade deadline. He batted .325 with 12 home runs and 40 RBIs in 57 games for Atlanta.

"No talk from ATL that I know of," LaRoche wrote in a text message to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Guess I should have hit .400 while I was there."

Bedard making progress after shoulder surgery: Mariners trainer Rick Griffin reports that Erik Bedard, a free agent, is progressing following his second shoulder surgery in two years.

"I talked to Erik last week a couple of times. I talk to his therapist every 10 days or so," Griffin told the Seattle Times. "We're still responsible, and I feel we have a responsibility to Erik to help him any way we can to get him going. He's going into therapy three or four times a week, and he's working out at home. I talked to him, and he said he feels really, really good. He's making good progress."

Boggs ready to start or relieve: With the St. Louis Cardinals looking more and more like a team that is going to fill their fifth-starter role with a veteran, Mitchell Boggs knows he may have to work out of the bullpen if he wants to stick with the Major League club in 2010.

"I think I've shown the ability to get guys out, out of the 'pen," Boggs told MLB.com. "I hope -- I feel that way. I feel like that's something I could do if need be, but I'll keep that mindset [of preparing to start] until they tell me the other way. I'll come into Spring Training expecting to compete for a job as a starter. But whatever they need me to do, I'll do."

Silva pitching in Venezuela: Carlos Silva, acquired by the Cubs in exchange for Milton Bradley, is currently pitching in Venezuela.

"His stuff is still pretty solid," Cubs GM Jim Hendry told MLB.com. "He was 89-92 [mph] [Thursday] night with a good sinker [pitching for Caribes]."

Gonzalez likely to fill closer role for Orioles: Mike Gonazlez is the early favorite in the Orioles' closer competition.

"That is a possibility, probably likelihood, but it's not something that is guaranteed to him," club president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail told the Baltimore Sun. "There will be a competition."

Vargas got a confidence boost in relief: Claudio Vargas began to consider himself as a reliever on Sept. 3 last season when he preserved a 4-3 win for Milwaukee with the bases loaded.

"That changed me," Vargas told MLB.com. "From then on, I was pitching late in the game in those tight situations."

-- Red Line Editorial