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Thursday, February 21
Updated: February 23, 4:34 PM ET
Reese: Adding Griffey hurt Reds' clubhouse

Associated Press

Ken Griffey Jr.
Griffey Jr.

Pokey Reese

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Infielder Pokey Reese thinks the special treatment that Ken Griffey Jr. gets from the Cincinnati Reds' front office hurts the chemistry in the clubhouse.

Reese, now playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates, said clubhouse spirit and discipline declined after the Reds lost Greg Vaughn to free agency and traded for Griffey in 2000.

"Junior's going to be Junior," Reese was quoted as saying in Thursday's editions of The Cincinnati Enquirer. "He's going to do his thing, and they are not going to say anything. But it's 25 of us, not one ... I know he's Ken Griffey Jr., but someone should have said, 'We're all in this together.' "

Griffey dismissed Reese's remarks when he showed up Thursday to work out at the Reds' spring training complex.

"In my case, if it's not one thing, it's another," Griffey said. "As long as it doesn't hurt my family, it's cool. He can say anything he wants about me. I'm not going to say anything negative about him."

With Vaughn leading the clubhouse, the Reds won 96 games in 1999 and lost a playoff for the NL wild card to the New York Mets. Vaughn left as a free agent after the season, and the Reds got Griffey in a trade with Seattle.

Reese said things changed dramatically after Griffey arrived. The Reds slid to 85 wins in 2000 and lost 96 games last season.

"I'm going to miss those guys, without a doubt, but for them to get back to where they were, a lot of things are going to have to change," said Reese, interviewed at the Pirates' training complex in Bradenton.

Another former Red -- Dmitri Young -- backed up Reese's sentiment.

"Pokey was absolutely right," Young, now with the Detroit Tigers, told Booth Newspapers. "I've said some things that you could read between the lines, but Pokey was dead on."

Young played four seasons in Cincinnati, including the last two with Griffey.

"Once Junior got there, the team broke off into cliques," he told Booth Newspapers. "Then you had guys that basically gave up.

"(Griffey's) got his accomplishments. But he throws them back in your face. He'd sit there and say, "How many home runs do you have? How much money do you make?' "

Reese said Vaughn kept players in line in the clubhouse, but the self-discipline slipped after he left.

"He told everybody how it should be," Reese said. "We didn't have that the last couple of years. We didn't have that leader to say what was going on."

Reese said players would leave the bench during games and show up late or skip pregame stretching. He also said Griffey got more batting practice than others.

"Sometimes, we were supposed to have extra BP, but it was Junior BP," Reese said.

Griffey tore his hamstring during spring training last year and was hobbled for most of the season. He returned from the disabled list on June 15 and wound up hitting .286 in 111 games with 22 homers and 65 RBI.

Griffey defended himself by pointing out that he played at the end of last season, when Reese was sidelined by a sore shoulder.

"To say I'm not a leader ... if I wasn't a leader, then I wouldn't have played 97 of the last 105 games," Griffey said. "I could have shut it down at the end of August. But when I came to the ballpark, I expected to play no matter what the team's condition.

"I'm not a rah-rah guy. It's not my job. My job is to play every day. How can you jump on anyone for not getting out there, when you're not getting out there yourself?"

Griffey said he skipped the team's stretching sessions because he had stretched on his own and was working with trainers.

When general manager Jim Bowden was negotiating the Griffey trade, he refused to include Reese in the deal. The two-time Gold Glove second baseman hit .224 last season and was traded to Colorado in a budget move.

The Rockies then traded him to Boston, which declined to offer him a contract. He signed a $5 million, two-year contract with Pittsburgh as a free agent.

Reese said he didn't like moving to shortstop last season after Barry Larkin got hurt.

"I wasn't happy being at shortstop," he said. "I wasn't going to say no, but I wasn't happy. ... My timing was so off last year, it wasn't even funny. Nothing was going right."

Bowden said Reese's comments about Griffey were unfortunate.

"I think Ken Griffey Jr. is a winning player," Bowden said. "I think he has a winning attitude."

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