"I said to him, 'I haven't had a base hit since July, you
could've let that one go by," a relaxed Griffey related Thursday,
lounging on a trunk next to his locker.
Actually, Griffey's last hit was on Aug. 4 and his final game of
2004 was two days later. The Cincinnati outfielder can be forgiven for getting his dates mixed up as he attempts yet another comeback.
Griffey, 35, has been sidelined by serious injuries each of the
last four seasons. He had surgery last Aug. 16 to reattach his torn
In his second and last at-bat of the Reds' 4-3 win over the
Tigers, Griffey walked. He trotted to second on Adam Dunn's single
and jogged to third on an inning-ending double play.
"We just wanted to get him two at-bats the first time out of
the chute," Reds manager Dave Miley said. "Tomorrow we'll shoot
The 12-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove center fielder has
501 homers, 1,444 RBI and a .292 average during his 16-year
Since Griffey hit 40 homers and had 118 RBI in 145 games in
2000, his first with the Reds, he has averaged just 15.8 homers,
43.5 RBI and 79.3 games per year.
"He was one of my favorite players growing up," the
26-year-old Pena said.
"I want him to get healthy and do his thing."
Tigers manager Alan Trammell, whose 20-season career as a
shortstop ended in 1996, said Griffey was one of the best players
"In my mind, he's a Hall of Famer," Trammell said.
Detroit's Dmitri Young, who played with Griffey for two seasons
in Cincinnati, said Griffey should be given credit for not being
linked to performance-enhancing drugs like many power hitters have
been during this era.
"He didn't do any of that poison," Young said. "He's all
"He's like the forgotten guy because he's been injured, but
he's still one of the best players to ever play this game."
The son of major league standout Ken Griffey Sr., Griffey said
he never considered taking steroids or other drugs to make him
stronger or more durable.
"It never really entered my mind because the person I wanted to
be like was my dad," he said.
The Reds received permission from Major League Baseball and
Detroit, Philadelphia and Cleveland to use the designated hitter
during Reds' home games. The Reds have four consecutive home games
beginning with Thursday's against the Tigers.
Griffey is to be the designated hitter for two days, take a day
off, then appear again as the designated hitter in two more games,
followed by an off day and an evaluation. Griffey said he's ready
to play in the outfield, but the Reds want to bring him along
"If something happens, it's not going to be because of a lack
of effort," he said. "I'm going to give 100 percent and if I get
hurt doing it, then I get hurt. I don't really worry about it."
He missed more than a month in 2001 because of a torn hamstring
that bothered him throughout that season. He then spent two long
stints on the disabled list in 2002 because of a torn knee tendon
and a torn right hamstring.
Griffey went on the DL twice again in 2003 for a dislocated
right shoulder and torn ankle tendon.
Last year, he was voted an All-Star starter for the 12th time,
but had to drop out after straining his right hamstring.
"Every year I have the same approach in thinking this is going
to be the year I stay healthy," Griffey said. "I've always stayed
positive because this is a game that I love to play and I know I
can bounce back from everything that has been thrown at me."
After Griffey left the game, the Reds beat the Tigers in the
ninth when Detroit shortstop Gookie Dawkins booted a grounder,
allowing two runs to score.
Cincinnati's Eric Milton started and gave up one run on six hits
while striking out two over three innings.
Jason Johnson, Detroit's projected opening day starter, allowed
one run on one hit and two walks and had one strikeout over the
first three innings.
Detroit OF Alex Sanchez left the team Thursday to reunite
with his mother in Miami. Sanchez hadn't seen his mother since he
left Cuba on a raft in 1994. He is expected to rejoin the team on
Saturday. ... Magglio Ordonez could make his debut with the Tigers
on Friday in Lakeland against the New York Yankees. "If he says
he's ready, he's going to get two at-bats," Trammell said. ...
About 10 Tigers were tested on Monday as part of major league
baseball's program to curb steroid use. "A few bad apples ruined
it for everybody," said Brandon Inge, who said he wasn't tested.
"But baseball is going to benefit from this because it's going to
eliminate all the questions."