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Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

November 11, 2009 at 11:35 AM

Wakamatsu on Griffey’s return

UPDATE 12:46 P.M.: For your perusal, here are the NL Gold Glove Winners (the number is number of Gold Gloves won):

P ADAM WAINWRIGHT CARDINALS 1

C YADIER MOLINA CARDINALS 2

1ST ADRIAN GONZALEZ PADRES 2

2ND ORLANDO HUDSON DODGERS 4

3RD RYAN ZIMMERMAN NATIONALS 1

SS JIMMY ROLLINS PHILLIES 3

OF SHANE VICTORINO PHILLIES 2

OF MICHAEL BOURN ASTROS 1

OF MATT KEMP DODGERS 1

I reached Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu in Peoria, Ariz., where he is watching the M’s prospects in the Arizona Fall League. He’s flying back to Texas on Friday to watch his son play (wide receiver) in a high school football championship game at the Cowboys’ $1.5 billion new stadium.

Here’s what he said about Ken Griffey Jr. returning for 2010:

“I’m happy. He was a joy last year. I said all year long, this guy had a huge impact, and he deserves to finish his career in Seattle. I think he understands the fact that he still has love for the game, and I think he rekindled that a little last year. He helped the club, and the club helped him.

“No 1, I’m happy he’s back. We have a great relationshiop. As a manager, you want guys that are a positive influence in the clubhouse. In my short career, he’s been a joy.”

(I asked him, naturally, about what he envisioned Griffey’s role would be. He said it was too soon to pinpoint).

“I can’t. Just in fairness, we don’t know what our team is shaping up like. Jack is obviously working a lot of deals. To say where that fits, I have no idea.”

(I asked if he thought Griffey would accept a reduced role)

“I think there was an understanding coming in, he wanted to come back and be a part of it. It was a reduced role at the end of last year. He wants to play, especially the way he ended up. He felt he could contrbute. I know him. More than anyone, he won’t agree to come back unless he thinks he can contribute.

“One thing I’ve learned — you can’t predict the future. I’m happy to have him back. What I’m looking for now is that he has no problems with the knee and is able to come back in good shape.”

“You know me, if a guy can do it, I’ll put him in that situation. We still have a lot of time to figure that stuff out.”

(On Griffey’s role in the clubhouse): “It was someone I could really trust. From where we started to where we ended up was amazing. I had no idea what kind of person he was and what kind of influence he would be. I said late last year, he helps players forget. His biggest influence was on some of the younger guys. He brings consistency to the clubhouse.”

“(laughing) He messed with me — he had the gall to insert himself into my family picture. No, he was beautiful. We had a couple of conversations this winter — not necessarily about this year, but how the surgery went and how he was doing. We kept in contact. I’m very glad he’s going to be a part of it again. It’s where he belongs.”

I’ll get Jack Zduriencik’s quotes up once I clean up my transcript.

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