Seattle Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said that Ken Griffey Jr. was not asleep in the clubhouse in the eighth inning last Saturday night, he was indeed on the bench and available to pinch-hit, contradicting parts of a story that appeared in The Tacoma (Wash.) News Tribune on Monday.
When asked if Griffey had been asleep in the clubhouse during the game Saturday night, Wakamatsu said Tuesday, "He wasn't asleep. He was available to pinch hit and I chose not to use him as the manager."
Asked if he was available to pinch-hit in that game, Griffey said Tuesday, "I'm available all the time."
Before Tuesday night's game against the Baltimore Orioles, the Mariners held a players-only meeting. A club source said the meeting was organized by Mike Sweeney and "was 100 percent about Griffey" and was designed to support Griffey.
The source said that Griffey was upset and hurt by the story and cried briefly during the meeting. Sweeney chastised the anonymous young players for speaking about something that had happened in the clubhouse, according to the source.
The News Tribune story quoted two young players, who spoke off the record, saying that Griffey was asleep in the clubhouse during the game Saturday night. When asked whether he was asleep in the clubhouse, Griffey was vague. He didn't answer the specific question but said, "I wish they [the unnamed players] had been man enough to talk to me."
"He was asleep in the clubhouse," one player told the Tribune on Monday. "He'd gone back about the fifth inning to get a jacket and didn't come back. I went back in about the seventh inning -- and he was in his chair, sound asleep."
The second player, who is reported to know Griffey better, claims the scuffling slugger has had difficulty sleeping at home.
"He doesn't sleep well at night, he's away from his family, he's comfortable in the clubhouse," he told the Tribune. "They could have awakened him."
A club source said that there was no plan in place to release Griffey, who is, by any measure, the greatest player in franchise history.
Griffey was asked Monday if, in light of his struggles at the plate this year, he has considered retiring.
"I'll figure that out when I get to that point," he said.
Asked again, in another way, he said, "I'll figure that out when I get to that point."
Griffey, 40, was in the lineup Tuesday night in Seattle's 5-1 victory in Baltimore but hit seventh, the lowest in the order that he has hit since returning to the Mariners last year. Griffey hit .214 last season. He went 0 for 3 with a run in Tuesday night's game lowerering his average to .200 with no home runs, five RBIs and two extra-base hits in 80 at-bats.
Tim Kurkjian is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.