Griffey to get $3.15M for return

SEATTLE -- Ken Griffey Jr. will collect $3.15 million of a potential $5 million for returning to the Seattle Mariners.

The 39-year-old slugger earned an additional $1.15 million in bonuses tied to playing time and home attendance, according to contract details obtained by The Associated Press. That's on top of the $2 million in base salary the active home run leader received in his one-year contract.

A spike in playing time over the final week of the season, when Griffey started five times in six games as the designated hitter, earned him an additional $250,000 for eclipsing 450 plate appearances. He finished with 456.

He earned $900,000 more for incremental combinations of his plate appearances and the team's attendance topping 2 million.

Yet Griffey's presence did not drive up attendance as much as the team had hoped, though it likely prevented a steeper drop in a bad economy. The Mariners drew 2,195,284 in paid attendance to Safeco Field this season, down from 2.33 million last season. It was the lowest in Seattle since 1995 at the Kingdome.

Griffey would have received another $200,000 had the Mariners attracted 4,716 more fans. He could have earned up to $3 million in bonuses had Seattle drawn 3 million fans and he reached 500 plate appearances.

He was limited at times by a bothersome left knee on which he had arthroscopic surgery 12 months ago. The knee was drained multiple times during the season.

Griffey said Sunday he was going home to his family in Florida to discuss whether he wants to play again in 2010 or retire.

He said other than family concerns, "I have no reason not to" return.

Beyond the numbers, Griffey's impact in a previously fractured, bickering clubhouse was his biggest contribution in Seattle. Daily jokes and constant pranks -- such as homemade neck ties bearing his likeness for trips and the words "World's Greatest Teammate," and ones with a drawing of rookie manager Don Wakamatsu -- unified the team. And he drew formerly reclusive Ichiro Suzuki out of his shell.

"You can't forget about him," Suzuki said through an interpreter. "I believe that even in this winter, in my sleep, he will appear in my dreams.

"To play together with that hero of mine, in the same uniform -- and on top of that, in Seattle -- that time we got, even now, seems like a dream. I believe that time with him will continue."

His teammates carried Griffey off the field on their shoulders after Sunday's season finale. Seattle won 85 games and became the 13th team since 1901 to finish with a winning record the season after losing 100 games.

"I had a whole lot of fun. I had a chance to do something not many people get to do, which is play baseball for a living," Griffey said Sunday, drenched from a clubhouse beer shower. "Now, we'll see what the next chapter is about."

The issue of whether Griffey returns in 2010 is tricky.

He turns 40 next month. He almost signed with Atlanta instead of Seattle in February because he regretted being so far from his wife and their 15-, 13- and 7-year-old children at home in Orlando, Fla. His knee often bothered him so much he walked stiffly and had trouble bending it; it was drained multiple times during the season.

"They gave me a chance to do something I wanted to do, which is come back. I can't thank the organization enough for that," said Griffey, who debuted as a teen start in Seattle in 1989 and has 630 home runs. "I have to go back, talk to my family and find out what's best for all of us."

He said he hopes to make a decision in a few weeks.

The Mariners must decide if their youth movement has another spot for Griffey's leadership, now that he's fixed the clubhouse environment. They also must decide if their lineup has a place for a 40-year-old who hit .214 this season with 19 homers and 57 RBIs in 117 games while exclusively a designated hitter for all but the first weeks of the season.

"On any player that's a free agent at the end of the year, I would prefer not to make comments on those right now," general manager Jack Zduriencik said. "There's too many things that tie into that."