Griffey braces for his return to Seattle
By Hal McCoy / Staff Writer
PITTSBURGH — When the 2007 schedule was released, Seattle went into a frenzy: The Kid is coming back.
The Cincinnati Reds visit Seattle June 22-24 and they'll take Ken Griffey Jr. with them, his first visit to Safeco Field since the Mariners traded him to Cincinnati after the 1999 season.
"I haven't been to Seattle since the trade," said Griffey. "I saw the schedule, but I haven't thought about going back. I have to go where the schedule takes me."
Well, not always. Three years ago the schedule had the Reds playing in Seattle, but the Reds petitioned baseball to change it to a trip to Cleveland so they could have their regular home-and-home series with the Tribe. Major-league baseball agreed and Montreal replaced Cincinnati Seattle's visitor.
"Melissa (Griffey's wife) has relatives in Seattle and it will be nice to visit some great friends (and former teammates) Jay Buhner and Edgar Martinez who still live in Seattle," said Griffey.
He probably will receive a hero's welcome, but Griffey isn't certain.
"I don't know what to expect after spending 11 years of my life there," he said. "I told the truth when I left and some people didn't believe the truth. I left because of the long flights it took to be with my family, one of the reasons I came to Cincinnati. I took less money than I could have. I never had a contract dispute (with Seattle). I told the truth, but a lot of people don't believe athletes tell the truth."
On general manager Wayne Krivsky's after-season agenda is the future of the Reds coaches. None have contracts for next season.
"It will be finalized soon," said Krivsky. "I spent eight hours with them over the last three days and they all had homework assignments, including third-base coach Mark Berry (who is home with a leg injury) — evaluate the team."
It is expected that all will return — bench coach Bucky Dent, hitting coach Chris Chambliss, interim pitching coach Tom Hume, Berry, first-base coach Billy Hatcher and bullpen coach Mike Stefanski.
Who's the MVP?
Some might say the Reds had no Most Valuable Player. Manager Jerry Narron says it is MVP by committee.
"All of them," he said when asked who is MVP. "We didn't have anybody have a super year, but we had a lot have solid years. We had a lot of guys do well at different parts of the season. That's the way it has been. Scott Hatteberg, Brandon Phillips and Edwin Encarnacion were very good in spots. Rich Aurilia has been outstanding the last two months. Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr. had their times, too.
"And if you want a Pitcher of the Year, you go with Aaron Harang or Bronson Arroyo or both," he said.
Outfielder Norris Hopper, one of the surprise September call-ups after he led the Class AAA International League in hitting, was unable to play Saturday due to a mildly strained hamstring and Narron said he wasn't likely to play today's season finale.
He had six hits in his last nine at-bats and finished September with a .359 average, with one homer, five RBIs, two stolen bases and the admiring attention of his manager and coaching staff.
Before the Reds were officially eliminated Saturday, Narron was asked if Matt Belisle was still today's starting pitcher if the Reds remained in contention.
"He's throwing the first pitch," said Narron. Ceremonial or game. "First pitch of the game," Narron added.
Some facetiously asked if maybe they would bring in Homer Bailey to pitch today if the game was important. Narron and GM Wayne Krivsky went back-and-forth all season on whether to bring Bailey to the majors.
"Wayne and I are on the same page with Homer Bailey," said Narron. That's true, but one is at the top of the page and one is at the bottom of the page.