That’s Ken Griffey Jr., second from right, going through workouts with his Mariners teammates for the first time since 1999. He’s out there as I write this, shagging fly balls in right-center field along with a group of outfielders. The flies are being fed into a machine, allowing them to attain the height and depth they normally would in games. See it all in the video below. By the way, this guy thinks we should have more Griffey coverage, so just for him, I’ll be feeding you a batting practice update later. Griffey is scheduled to go about 10:15 a.m.
Manager Don Wakamatsu is celebrating his 46th birthday this morning. Wakamatsu told us that Griffey won’t be rushed into action. In other words, don’t expect to see him in the intra-squad games on Monday and Tuesday. As for the exhibition season, which starts on Wednesday with a charity game against the San Diego Padres, that’s also up in the air for now.
Wakamatsu wants to “just get him out here, move him around a little bit — see how he reacts.”
Turns out all that clubhouse leadership stuff Griffey talked about yesterday at his press conference was no accident. The topic was a discussion point between Griffey, Wakamatsu and GM Jack Zduriencik when the three of them met in Peoria a week ago today. The M’s let Griffey know they were in need of more than just a hitter. That they wanted him to be a clubhouse presence as well.
“I think those meetings were important that we had coming in here,” Wakamatsu said when the clubhouse topic was broached this morning.
Russell Branyan and Tyler Walker are back out there today, but are being limited in what they do for now. Branyan has a stiff back and Walker a sore quad muscle.
Yuniesky Betancourt is also taking it slow, though he was jogging around with his equipment bag a few moments ago, trying to figure out which field he’s supposed to be on.