Ken Griffey Jr. seems to be saying “Want me to stay in the game?” as he looks back after being removed from the action. The Mariners had a four-run lead when Griffey left the contest, but blew it as the Texas Rangers scored three off Randy Messenger in the seventh and the tying run off Cesar Jimenez in the eighth in a game that ended 7-7 in 10 innings. Jimenez seems to be doing all he can not to be kept on this club as spring training progresses. He just can’t get anyone out. Messenger has pitched better, just not today.
On the positive side, Griffey’s swing continues to come together. He had a pair of doubles today, the first one over the head of onetime Reds teammate Josh Hamilton. The next one was a rocket shot about halfway up a 40-foot-high fence in center. The fact that both doubles were to center is a good sign that his timing is back.
“here are good days and bad days,”he said. “It’s just a matter of seeing pitches and not trying to do too much.”
Hamilton was seen saying something to him after his first double.
“He said it just ticked off his glove,” Griffey said. “I said ‘You’ve got to grow an inch taller.’ He’s 6-foot-4, 240.”
Griffey also got blinded by the sun on a ground-ruled double to left by Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the second inning and nearly had the ball hit him in the face. He quipped at first that his wife, Melissa, wouldn’t have recognized him if it had, then added: “Some of these guys in here would have been able to get dates.”
I came away impressed by all the bunts and aggressive base running by the team today. We haven’t seen a whole lot of it the past few years. If the M’s can keep it up, forcing teams into mistakes like they did the Rangers today, it bodes well. Then again, it doesn’t take much to force the Rangers into fielding mistakes. Today, at least, the M’s looked like the better team. But they have to get the bullpen straightened out.
I spoke to Jose Lopez at length in the clubhouse. He’ll be playing against the Dodgers tonight. He was named to the WBC’s All-Tournament Team today, a huge honor for him given the players he outshone on his own team. Sluggers like Miguel Cabrera, Bobby Abreu, Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen and Melvin Mora.
One big thing he took out of the experience? Watching how all the 100-RBI types on his squad were willing to put big hits aside and do little things right when they had to.
“In that situation, when you’re playing for your country, you play as a team,” he said. “You do the little things. That’s what we do in Venezuela, we do the little things, like when it’s 1-0, 2-0, or 2-1, the little things to win the game. It doesn’t matter what. I try to do that all the time, but this was different. This team had a lot of guys with 100 RBI and they were doing it.”
By the way, here are the lineups for tonight’s game in Glendale, Ariz.:
10 Endy Chavez CF
7 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
4 Jose Lopez 2B
30 Russell Branyan DH
25 Wladimir Balentien LF
9 Jeff Clement C
27 Matt Tuiasosopo 3B
61 Mike Wilson RF
6 Chris Woodward 1B
18 Ryan Rowland-Smith LHP
Los Angeles Dodgers
15 Rafael Furcal (S) SS
30 Orlando Hudson (S) 2B
99 Manny Ramirez DH
16 Andre Ethier (L) RF
23 Casey Blake 3B
7 James Loney (L) 1B
9 Juan Pierre (L) CF
12 Brad Ausmus C
17 Jason Repko LF
22 Clayton Kershaw LHP
March 24, 2009 at 4:29 PM