I had assumed that Ken Griffey jr would retire after hitting .214 this season, to preserve some dignity, but apparently he not only wants to return in 2010, but has convinced the Mariners he’s enough of an asset to give him a contract comparable to his 2009 salary of over $3 million Why?
Griffey returned to the Mariners in 2009 under rookie manager Don Wakamatsu and almost single-handedly transformed what had been a fractured, bickering clubhouse with his leadership, energy and constant pranks….
“He went beyond anything that I would have expected,” Zduriencik said.
Griffey even turned formerly reclusive star Ichiro Suzuki into a smiling, joking teammate. He had neckties made for road trips bearing Wakamatsu’s likeness. He also had the Mariners wearing ties bearing his own likeness and the words “World’s Greatest Teammate” for one midseason flight out of Seattle.
“His influence, the presence he has — there are players on this ballclub who are very excited to know they are going to be teammates again with Ken Griffey Jr.,” Zduriencik said.
The Mariners even carried Griffey off the field on their shoulders immediately following October’s season finale.
That’s all to the good, and by and large Griffey’s been one of the good guys in his career; yes, he’s been prone to whining and self-centeredness at times, especially in mid-career, but some of that comes with being told from your teen years that you are going to be a superstar, and it being right. On the whole, he’s a guy I’ve always liked and rooted for, and it’s good to see he’s grown into a real clubhouse leader in his later years.
But it might help the Mariners to replace Griffey with someone who can provide a little more than a nice personality.