SARASOTA, Fla. -- Ken Griffey Jr. thinks the Major League offseason is getting shorter and shorter. A veteran of 19 seasons, he's experienced plenty of them.
"Last week, I unwrapped Christmas gifts -- now I'm at Spring Training already," the Reds right fielder joked.
Griffey was back in camp on Tuesday for the official report date of the Reds' full squad, although he was around last week working out early. The 38-year-old took a round of batting practice with several other Reds inside Ed Smith Stadium.
It might have been a perceived short offseason for Griffey, but he still managed to pack a lot in. He bought go-karts and raced them with his wife and kids, dealt with a generator fire on his large yacht and lowered his golf handicap to six.
"The drives were long and I was feathery around the greens," Griffey joked.
Two weeks ago, Griffey moved into a new house in his adopted hometown of Orlando, Fla. Although he declined to reveal its size, the home has a two-lane bowling alley in the basement.
"It's a nice, small bungalow," Griffey said.
Entering the final guaranteed year of an eight-year contract that pays him $12.5 million in 2008, Griffey batted .277 with 30 homers and 93 RBIs in 144 games last season. The year ended prematurely on Sept. 19 when he suffered a high left groin strain.
There didn't appear to be any lingering issues from that injury. Griffey was asked how he was feeling now that he's back in camp.
"It's a matter of going through the baseball drills and the aches and pains of the first two weeks," he said. "You try not to do too much and do what you can."
It's an issue that can muddy any Spring Training debate about the makeup of a final 25-man roster.
Two catchers, or three?
The Reds already have two returning catchers in David Ross and Javier Valentin. But on Feb. 1, veteran Paul Bako, a non-roster invite, was signed to a Minor League deal. From 2003-04, Bako played for Reds manager Dusty Baker.
How much did Baker like Bako in Chicago?
"A lot -- that's why he's here," Baker said.
Baker said it's possible the Reds could carry three catchers.
"It depends on how things go," Baker said. "Late in the game, you'd love to have a guy like Bako behind the plate for a double switch or to pinch-hit. I told [general manager] Wayne [Krivsky] I'm looking for options. The more options I have, the more things you can do, the more people that can play and be put positions where they feel comfortable and succeed."
Under Krivsky and former manager Jerry Narron, Cincinnati carried Ross, Valentin and Jason LaRue in 2006. Last season, Chad Moeller was a third catcher, but he was shuttled back and forth from the Major League roster to Triple-A several times.
Bako was originally drafted by the Reds in the fifth round of the 1993 First-Year Player Draft. He took the circuitous route to get back. The 35-year-old reached Triple-A in 1997 before he was dealt to the Tigers with Donne Wall for outfielder Melvin Nieves.
"The team you get drafted by is the one you always hope you're going to make it with," Bako said. "Once I got traded the first time, it seemed like a yearly thing for a while."
Since 1998, Bako has played for the Astros, Marlins, Braves, Brewers, Cubs, Dodgers, Royals and Orioles. A lifetime .233 hitter, he batted .205 in 60 games last season with Baltimore.
"He's been a very good catch, throw and call guy," Baker said. "He's been around a long time and knows the game. I was talking to Paul Casanova about him the other day. He was my teammate and a fine catcher with the Braves and Senators. He looked at him and said, 'Bako knows what he's doing. Someday, he'll make a fine coach or manager.'"
Bako appreciated having familiarity with Baker and some of the Reds' staff.
"I was in this organization 10 years ago, but it feels like a place I've been the last couple of years because of the clubhouse staff, [head trainer] Mark Mann, Dusty, [pitching coach] Dick Pole and [bullpen coach] Porky [Lopez]," Bako said. "I played under [third base coach] Mark Berry for three years in the Minor Leagues. There are a lot of guys I played against a lot. It just feels really comfortable, you know, as opposed to signing with a random team."
The first full squad workout for 62 players is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. Most of the position players were already out on the field a day early. Adam Dunn took batting practice in Griffey's group. Brandon Phillips fielded ground balls at second base. Edwin Encarnacion and Joey Votto also made their first appearances at camp.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.