Friday, January 29, 1999

Junior: 'I'll make it real simple: I need pitching'

Griffey won't talk to Mariners about new deal

The Associated Press

        SEATTLE — Ken Griffey Jr. isn't interested right now in a contract extension with the Seattle Mariners. And he may not be at any time.

        Seattle tried last fall to open discussions with Griffey and shortstop Alex Rodriguez. Both are eligible for free agency after the 2000 season.

        “The Mariners shouldn't be concentrating on me right now; they shouldn't be concentrating on Alex,” Griffey told The News Tribune of Tacoma. “They've got to get somebody who can get some damned outs.

        “I'm signed for two more years. Alex is signed for two more years. I'm not going to sign something now — I don't want to be stuck in a situation where we're good one year and not the next.”

        Griffey, halfway through a $34 million, four-year contract, is frustrated the Mariners haven't reached the World Series. The team figures to be weaker this year following the departure of Randy Johnson, who was traded last July 31.

        “We've had the best short stop in baseball (Rodriguez), the best center fielder (Griffey), the best designated hitter (Edgar Martinez), the best right fielder (Jay Buhner) — and we haven't won anything. We need pitching,” Griffey said. “The team doesn't owe that to Ken and Alex; it owes it to the fans.”

        Griffey is 29 and Rodriguez is 23. Scott Boras, Rodriguez's agent, already is saying the shortstop will top the $105 million, seven-year contract Boras negotiated in December for pitcher Kevin Brown.

        “I heard the talk about a 10-year, $200 million deal, and three or four years ago, I'd have been oohing and aahing about that,” said Rodriguez, who has a $10.6 million, five-year contract. “Now? Winning is my motivation. What's the difference between $100 million and $200 million if you're not happy? I don't want to make $150 million and finish in last place.

        “I talk to Derek (Jeter) all the time. He'd sign a lifetime deal with the Yankees, and why wouldn't you? They do everything in their power to win. I'm in a tougher situation here. Derek knows I like Seattle, but he tells me I have to win. If it's not possible to win, why stay?”

        The Mariners hope to start serious negotiations on extensions this month and complete them by July 15, when the Mariners move to their new ballpark.

        “This is the only team I've ever played for, and they've made me rich at a very young age,” Rodriguez said. “I owe them this: I'll listen. But I've got to be realistic.”

        The Mariners were favored to win the AL West last season, but finished a disappointing third behind Texas and Anaheim.

        “I'll make it real simple: I need pitching,” Griffey said. “Whatever it takes to get us to a World Series. That's what we're looking for. Do we have it here? I don't know. Did we have it last year? We thought so, but things didn't work out.”


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