It’s really hard to gauge what Ken Griffey Jr., the star of today’s 7-1 Mariners; win over the Yankees, has in mind for next year. He said flat-out today he would not make an announcement either way prior to the final homestand.
That will add some intrigue to the final games at Safeco against Oakland and Texas, which begin Sept. 29 and end Oct. 4. They could well be Griffey’s final games with the Mariners (or ever) but Griffey seems adamant about keeping everyone guessing.
“We still have (12) games left. We’ll figure that out,” he said. “Right now, we have things to do, and that’s win games. At the end of the year, we’ll decide, and that’s it.”
Griffey shot down any notion that he would make an announcement before the final homestand, which begins on Sept. 29 against Oakland.
“No. Because we still have games to play. That’s the most important thing,” he said.
For those searching for signs, there was the fact that Griffey brought out the Mariners’ lineup card to the umpires before the game. But don’t read anything into that, he warned.
“Now, if I hit a home run and start tipping my hat like Babe Ruth, then you know,” he laughed.
Griffey drove in four runs with a double in the first and three-run homer in the second, both off Joba Chamberlain.
“When he hits a ball like he did today, you don’t see age,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. “That’s a beautiful swing. Watch his batting practice, and you see tremendous leverage. He still gives you a great at-bat.”
Wakamatsu heaped praise on rookie catcher Adam Moore, making his second career start, for the way he handled Ian Snell.
“Adam Moore did a phenomenal job. That’s two games we’ve seen him now, and for a young kid, he did a great job of handling the pitching today. He did a good job of taking visits, controlling the tempo, and handling the baseball.”
Moore also got his first career hit, for which he was rewarded with a double-barrelled ice cream in the face attack by Griffey and Mike Sweeney during the post-game interview.
“That’s something I’ll never forget, having Griffey and Sweeney doing it, two veterans that they are, tag-teaming me,” Moore said. “It was a lot of fun having those two guys doing it to me.”
Snell also got praised by Wakamatsu.
It’s a great stepping stone to really believe that if he makes his pitches, he can beat some awfully good offenses. That’s what I saw today. He really did a nice job of getting out of damage. He attacked the zone and I thought his tempo was a lot better. It was a great outing for him.
Back to Griffey — it was his 36th career homer against the Yankees. The only teams against whom he’s hit more are the Twins (42), Indians (38) and Brewers (38).
That Yankee homer list by Griffey includes one of the most memorable of his career off current Mariners’ bullpen coach John Wetteland during Seattle’s 1995 playoff run.
But there’s no extra emotion for him playing the Yankees, Griffey said, other than the pleasure of making them earn their inevitable playoff berth away from Safeco Field. If the Yankees had won this game, they would have clinched at least a wild-card berth.
“We’re just trying to get wins, and whoever is out there just happens to be out there,” Griffey said.
Griffey, now hitting .219, missed six games in late August and early September because of knee problems.
“At 39, I call them spa days, not down time. My good friend Jim Thome taught me that,” he said.
“It’s fun,” he added. “”From last year to this year, you can’t say enough for what guys have done, from upstairs to down here, to change what happened last year.”
Will there be a next year for him? He was coy to the end today.
“I’m going to Disney World,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to say it, and I finally did.”
(Photo by Associated Press)