Rick Griffin, the Mariners’ trainer, went straight from the winter meetings in Indianapolis to visit Ken Griffey Jr. in Orlando, spending three days with the now 40-year-old.
Same old Griffey — Griffin said that when he had a bone spur removed from his left knee last month, he asked the surgeon to give him the spur.
“It’s in a jar,” said Griffin, who showed up at Chone Figgins’ press conference today at Safeco Field to say hello to the newest Mariner (newest official Mariner, anyway). “He threw it at me — ‘Here’s my spur.’ ”
Griffin also got a driving tour past the now-infamous house of Griffey’s Orlando neighbor, Tiger Wood,. But none of his patented wise cracks, because Griffey feels badly for his good friend. Yes, Griffin saw the most famous fire hydrant in America.
“It was new and shiny,” he said.
Most importantly, Griffin said that Griffey feels great, is working out hard, and has lost six to eight pounds en route to his winter goal of losing 15. He ended last year at about 230.
“I don’t think you’re going to notice a huge difference, because it’s not that much weight,” he said. “We didn’t ask him to lose that much weight. We just wanted him to lose a little bit to take the pressure off his knee. He’s not going to go from 230 to 210. He’s lost about six or eight pounds. He wants to lose, he said, 15 pounds. If he does, that’s great. If he loses 10, that’s good, too.”
Overall, Griffin said, “His knee looks good. His range of motion is better than it was last year at any point. He’s doing some strengthening exercises. He’s doing really good. He’s working, he’s excited to come back. I think this is going to make a difference in how he feels overall, because he’s going to be able to use his legs more. He won’t have as much inflammation in his legs, so it should help.”
Griffin said Griffey was bothered periodically by his knee last season.
“If you review his whole year, and this isn’t an excuse in any way, but he was a little bit undecided if he was going to play. He went into last offseason not knowing for sure if he was going to play or not. He had had a surgery on his knee that required a little more extensive rehab. When he did decide to play, he was already behind in what he should have been doing. He came to spring training, and even though we had six weeks to do a lot of things, he wanted to play and he kind of pushed it.
“It was an ongoing thing – he would have a week or 10 days it didn’t bother him, then he’d have four or five days it bothered him. There was one stretch he played four or five days in a row in the outfield. When that happened, from that period on, we were kind of fighting it.”
Griffin said that Griffey is even lifting weights.
“He always lifted weights; he said he didn’t, but he did. He has a great gym in his house, and he has a very good personal instructor in his wife. They work out together. She has him in there working out. He’s doing cardio and specific exercises for his leg. He’s doing good.”
Here’s what Jack Zduriencik said today at Figgins’ press conference when asked about the DH situation: “Ken, certainly, is in the fold. He’ll have an opportunity, certainly, to be our DH. I still think there’s a lot of moving parts here. Where it ends up, I really don’t know. I have an idea. We’d like to add some pieces. There are some continuing pieces we’re talking to, and we’ll see where it ends up.”
On Griffey’s conditioning, Zduriencik said: “We all want players to come back in great shape, motivated. Junior told me in September, ‘When I come back, I’m coming back cut.’ I’m holding him to that. Junior, if you’re out there listening, I’m looking to see that.”
He added, “I think any player who comes in really good shape is an advantage. Last year, Junior was coming off the knee surgery, the bout with diverticulitis, and not knowing where he was going to go. One thing his wife told me, she was so relieved, she knew where he was going to be. ‘We know how to arrange ourselves.’ She said, ‘I’m a planner, and I can plan everything out now.’ ”
Also, Griffin had health updates on Jack Wilson, Rob Johnson and Erik Bedard.
“He’s playing basketball, working out, taking yoga a couple of times a week. He’ll come to camp ready to go,” he said.
Wilson is just one of many players the Mariners have asked to take yoga workouts to improve their flexibility.
“We’re talking about having someone come to spring training and do yoga with us in Arizona,” Griffin said.
“He’s doing a lot of range of motion, a lot of strengthening, cardio, working the pool,” Griffin said. “He’s starting from scratch as far as getting his strength back.”
Johnson has one more visit to his hip surgeon in Vail, Colorado.
“The doctor thinks he’s going to be fine by spring training, but because he had two surgeries and he is a catcher, I’ve already talked to Don (Wakamatsu) and Jack (Zduriencik),” Griffin said. “We’re going to go cautiously with him. As the spring training and season goes on, he’ll be able to do more accelerated activities. He’s going to be fine. He’s a tough kid.”
“I talked to Erik last week a couple of times. I talk to his therapist every 10 days or so,” Griffin said. “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.”
(Seattle Times photo by Mark Harrison)