Griffey arrives at Mariners spring training
PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) – Sporting a bucket hat with sunglasses, Ken Griffey Jr. arrived at the Mariners’ spring training complex Friday with the kind of reception reserved for a veteran and clubhouse leader.
Griffey embraced manager Don Wakamatsu and general manager Jack Zduriencik, and bellowed greetings to teammates from across the clubhouse.
Slated to be the Mariners’ designated hitter, Griffey flew overnight from Florida after watching his daughter’s basketball game. He took his physical Friday after proclaiming that he’d lost seven pounds through dieting and exercise.
Griffey talked to most everyone in sight, even fans. He held court outside the complex with a group of fans following his physical.
“Good to see him,” Wakamatsu said. “It got real loud in there. It’s amazing how one guy can change the karma of the room.”
Other Mariners position players arrived in camp Friday, including third baseman Chone Figgins and outfielders Franklin Gutierrez and Ryan Langerhans.
Mike Sweeney, another team leader from last season, is expected Sunday after signing a minor-league deal last week.
“When you get Griff in here, it kind of puts pressure on everyone else,” Wakamatsu said. “I just called (Sweeney). I said ‘Griff’s here, where you at?’ He said, ‘I got a late invitation. It wasn’t my fault.”‘
Cliff Lee, who is coming off foot surgery, is scheduled to take part in pitchers’ fielding practice as early as Saturday. It will be his first baseball drill of spring training, with a bullpen session slated for Wednesday.
“I feel good now. I feel like I could do it now,” Lee said. “But it’s kind of ‘Take it easy, better safe than sorry’ type of stuff at this point. Foot feels fine. It’s a little sore from time to time but it’s nothing that’s major at all.”
In other news, Erik Bedard played catch for about 12 minutes Friday as he rehabs his surgically repaired left shoulder.
Catcher Rob Johnson, who had offseason hip and wrist surgery, caught a bullpen session Friday morning, took batting practice and ran without any noticeable hitch in this stride in conditioning drills.
“He wanted to catch more than one guy and we kind of had to hold him back a little bit,” Wakamatsu said.