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redsmetz
04-30-2008, 04:07 AM
Column about Griffey from St. Louis paper today.


Reds have yet to win a title since Griffey's arrival

By Derrick Goold
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Wednesday, Apr. 30 2008

The Kid who made wearing a cap backward ballpark chic and launched a generation
of lefthanded-swinging imitators now finds himself surrounded by well, kids.

"They're like, 'I remember, man, watching you on TV,'" ever youthful Ken
Griffey Jr. said in the Cincinnati clubhouse Tuesday. He then added:

"When (they) were in seventh grade."

Eight seasons after Griffey came to the Reds as the superstar to hitch a
pennant on, a hometown boy and a stabilizing force, all he has known is change.
The hiring last week of Walt Jocketty at general manager meant Griffey is
playing for his fourth GM. That's four more times than he's been in the
playoffs as a Red.

Dusty Baker, hired this past winter as manager, is Griffey's sixth manager as a
Red. That's five more winning seasons than he has had there.

"I worry about trying to get this team back on track, get back in the
playoffs," said Griffey, before attempting to recite the turnstile of bosses
and stopping at five. "You're a player. You sign here. You're going to go out
there and deal with what's thrown at you.

"We've had some tough luck," he continued. "Other players and me haven't been
able to stay healthy. That's taken its toll on everybody. Hopefully this is a
different year."

If not different, it will definitely be decisive.

Griffey, 38, is not only on the brink of his 600th career home run he nearly
hit his 598th in the first inning Tuesday but pulled it a few feet foul but
is also in the final year of the contract he signed back during his giddy
arrival in Cincinnati. The Reds hold a $16.5 million option for 2009, but a
youth movement is afoot and there is the possibility the Reds will approach him
about a trade to further their transition.

"I have control of a few things," he said. "I can control how I play. I can't
control what they want to do. I have control over where I want to go if they
try to move me. Otherwise I have to go out there and help this team as much as
I can for as long as I can."

Griffey joined the Reds in February 2000 amid much optimism. The center fielder
came out of Seattle with 10 consecutive All-Star invitations, 10 consecutive
Gold Gloves and three consecutive seasons of leading the American League in
homers, twice with 56. The Reds weren't too shabby, either. They had won 96
games in 1999 and lost a tiebreaker game for the final spot in the postseason.

The Kid was the clincher, certification for a rising club.

Six managers later, Griffey has experienced more injury than ecstasy and
Cincinnati has just one winning season, that first season, 2000. They are now
in a third or fourth rebuilding project and a second general manager this
season. Youth is the word.

"I always dreamed of having a young, talented team. Always dreamed of having
that," Baker said. When asked if he will soon, Baker said: "We're on the way.
We're on the way. Look at (Tuesday). Other than Junior, the rest of them are
27-, 28-year-old guys."

Junior Griffey and catcher Paul Bako were the only players in the Reds lineup
Tuesday older than 28. Pitcher Johnny Cueto is 22, and Griffey likened him
already to "65 to 70 percent of Pedro (Martinez) in his prime." The debut of
outfielder Jay Bruce, Baseball America's No. 1 prospect, is imminent.

Griffey said "there are some kids coming to watch."

He was always The Kid to watch. With an irrepressible grin and the backward
cap, Griffey remains the best of his generation. Young players still mimic the
cap style he first did it to make his father's cap fit and former MVP Ryan
Howard patterned his swing after Griffey's. Griffey will soon become the sixth
player in history to reach 600 homers, and with health he'll leave this season
as fifth all-time.

He joked he'll keep playing until his 12-year-old daughter insists it's time
for him to come home.

"I thought growing up I would be like my dad (ballplayer Ken Griffey)," he
said. "I didn't think about ever hitting 200, 300, 400, 500 and closing in on
600. That wasn't what it was about. I came up as a No. 2 hitter doing the small
things and big things would happen.

"I've been fortunate enough to hit a few big things."