Ken Griffey Jr. to consult for Mariners
SEATTLE -- Ken Griffey Jr. is returning to the Seattle Mariners as a special consultant less than a year after abruptly retiring from baseball, the team said Tuesday.
Griffey's role is still being defined, but he'll be involved with the Mariners at spring training and the regular season, along with visiting most of the Mariners minor-league affiliates.
Griffey's agent, Brian Goldberg, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press that Griffey should be in Arizona next month. "The Mariners didn't have to do this," Goldberg said. "He and I are both appreciative of the opportunity."
Griffey also is expected to be involved with marketing, broadcasting and community relations.
"I'm looking forward to staying very involved with the Mariners, working with the players throughout the organization, staying involved with the community and assisting in other areas of the organization," Griffey said in a statement from the club. "It's an exciting time and I'm very appreciative of the opportunity."
Team president Chuck Armstrong said that despite Griffey's abrupt retirement last June, when he simply issued a statement saying he was retiring, Griffey has been "steadfast in his desire to continue his relationship with the Mariners."
Griffey, 41, spent the first half of his career with Seattle. He was an All-Star in 10 of his 11 seasons with the Mariners and was voted AL MVP in 1997.
After stints with the Cincinnati Reds, where he was an NL All-Star three times, Griffey played in 41 games for the Chicago White Sox in 2008. The next offseason, he came back to the Mariners as a part-time DH, hit .214 with 19 home runs and was carried off the field at the conclusion of the final regular-season home game.
Griffey came back in 2010 and was batting .184 without a home run when he cleaned out his locker. He said in his statement that without occasional starts off the bench, his continued presence would become an "unfair distraction" to the team, which he never wanted to be for his teammates.
"In his mind, he thought he didn't have any real alternative," Armstrong said. "He and I talked the day that he did leave and we might have wished that he did it differently, but in his mind, he did it the right way for himself and the franchise.
"For today as far as I'm concerned, all that's behind us," Armstrong added. "I'm just happy to have him back and welcome him back home."
Mariners manager Eric Wedge embraces the move. He said Tuesday that it's important for the club to stay in touch with its history and hopes that other former Mariners stars will come down to Arizona to talk to and work with the players.
"You look at the Hall-of-Fame player that he [Griffey] is and the experience that he's had and the success that he's had, obviously there's a lot to be taken from that," Wedge said.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press