(I saw this article in the Seattle Times, if anyone else has posted it already, my apologies)

By now, the litany of Griffey injuries is familiar, from hamstring to knee to shoulder to ankle to groin. The 13 stays on the disabled list, eight of them since the Mariners traded him to Cincinnati after the 1999 season. Hundreds of games lost that could have had him approaching 800 by now instead of 600.

As Mariners' coach Norm Charlton said Monday of his former Seattle teammate, it is "almost tragic."

He added, "I think Junior was the one guy we really felt had a chance to catch Barry ó or Hank at the time. ...

"Is he a first ballot Hall of Famer? Yes. But his numbers could be unbelievably more than they are without the injuries."


There have been whispers over the years that Junior is paying the price for lax preparation in the Seattle years. It was all so easy for him in his Mariners' days, when he was The Natural, that he never felt the need to tune his body. Or so goes the pervasive school of thought.

Charlton scoffs at that notion.

"I think the thing that a lot of people didn't realize is that Junior has always had a gym at his house," he said. "Junior has always gotten his work in. Junior liked to come to the ballpark and really have fun. It always gave off the appearance he wasn't doing anything, but Junior got his work in in the morning before he came to the ballpark.

"He'll probably hate me for saying this: He got in his work, but he came to the stadium and it was almost like he wanted everyone to think it was so easy for him, and he was just that talented.

"I think he gets labeled as someone who never really worked hard, but he never let anyone see him work hard."

That viewpoint is seconded by Mariners' trainer Rick Griffin, who knows Griffey's behind-the-scenes work habits better than anyone.

"He was a natural, but Junior knew his body when he was young as well as anyone, and when he needed to do things," Griffin said.

"And he did do things. He'd come into the training room all the time. ... He'd do exercises sitting by his locker, or find a place by himself. He didn't do things in front of everyone, because he didn't want people seeing him doing it.

"He'd stretch all the time. They'd say, 'He doesn't stretch with the team.' Well, he'd stretch for 30 minutes before we even went out there. He was already loose."

Said Griffin, wistfully: "Being selfish, I wish he could have stayed here, and I wish I could have had the chance to take care of him and help him. ... I'm going to say I think I could have helped him."