Sunday, July 18, 1999

FIVE QUESTIONS with KEN GRIFFEY




        Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners is considered by many to be the best player in baseball today, if not ever. And he's from our very own Queen City, where he played at Moeller High School. His dad, Ken Sr., is a bench coach for the Reds, which has led to more than a little speculation that Junior will return to play ball in his hometown some day.

        Regardless of where he hangs his batting helmet, Griffey will grace the All-Star Game for years to come. At the midsummer classic last week in Boston, Junior stopped hitting home runs long enough to chat with Enquirer reporter Chris Haft.

       

        Is baseball becoming too offensive? If so, is it good or bad for the game?

        I don't think it's becoming too offensive. I think guys are bigger, stronger and faster. I or any hitter can go to a (batting) cage and work three or four hours on hitting, or go to a gym and lift weights. But a pitcher can't go out in his backyard and have a catcher available to him as easily.

       

        Having been to the All-Star Game many times before, would you rather have the three days off, or does it not lose the glamour?

        It never loses the glamour, simply because the fans pick you. It's not just a coach or a manager. And about the three days off, I had 73 days off one year with a broken hand and 20 days off the following year. I have enough time off.

       

        Henry Aaron said if there's anybody who can break his career home run record, it's you. What do you think about that?

        I never really thought about that. The person I wanted to be was my dad. Over 2,000 hits, world championships, played every day, played hard, played hurt. That's the only person I patterned my game after. That's the person I wanted to be, because he was a guy I could physically touch. Now they're talking about me breaking Henry Aaron's record. I just sit there and go, “OK.” It's an honor that he says it and you (reporters) say it, but I still take one day at a time and see what I can do to help my team.

       

        Was it disappointing dropping off the pace in the home run race last year behind Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa?

        No, because I gave 100 percent. That's all I can do. I'm the one who has to look in the mirror and ask myself the next day or any other day, “Did I give 100 percent?” Yes, I did.

       

        Is Boston's Pedro Martinez the most dominating pitcher you've faced recently?

        Yes. I've faced him twice, and both times he basically said, “Here, hit this.” And you couldn't do it. He's going to come after you. He knows how to pitch.

       



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