MARINERS UPDATE: Talkin’ Junior

A newspaper story Tuesday revived thoughts of Ken Griffey Jr. playing for the Mariners again, and it spawned a question to Mariners manager John McLaren.

The Mariners don’t discuss trades, negotiations or personnel matters, and McLaren cautioned that he can’t comment about what Griffey would mean to the club.

However…

“Kenny’s always been one of my favorites. He was the player of the ’90s,” McLaren said. “I can’t comment on it because he’s somebody else’s property. But when I think about it personally, I love the guy. It was a great thrill for me to be with him again at the World Baseball Classic. It was like old times throwing batting practice to him. I’m very eager to see him get his 600th home run. If he hadn’t had some of his injuries, I think he’d be at 700.”

Among topics in the USA Today story about Griffey was the possibility that the Mariners might trade for him this year. Griffey is in the last year of his contract with the Cincinnati Reds, who have a $16.5 million club option for next year with a $4 million buyout.

With the Reds floundering already this season, there’s already been talk that Griffey could be moved. That, along with the Mariners’ need for offense and Griffey’s statement last year that he would like to finish his career in Seattle, has led to speculation about a return.

“I’m sure he’s got great memories here,” McLaren said. “It’s hard for me to speculate. I don’t talk to Kenny or anything. But as a fan guessing, this is where it started and he’s got great memories here.”

Griffey’s agent, Brian Goldberg, told the Cincinnati Enquirer that nobody should make much of the current situation or Griffey’s statement last year about retiring as a Mariner.

“That’s a general comment,” Goldberg said. “That could mean anything from a ceremonial one-day contract to a final season or more.”

Goldberg said the Reds’ record, 13-20 entering Tuesday, leads to trade speculation.

“Because the team is playing so poorly, the natural inclination is to say the trade deadline is two months away,” he told the Enquirer. “Not only Junior, but is (Adam) Dunn going to be gone? I’m sure if the team was six or eight games over .500 right now, these would not be issues that are even talked about.”

Washburn feels better: Pitcher Jarrod Washburn, who left Monday night’s game in the seventh inning because of stiffness in his right calf, said Tuesday he expects to make his next start Saturday.

“It feels good, (but) it’s not 100 percent,” Washburn said. “I don’t forsee missing a start.”

He suffered a similar injury two years ago, when he missed the final 10 days of the season, and says this one isn’t as bad.

“They’re hoping that it’s just scar tissue that just broke from that spot,” said Washburn, who may skip his usual between-starts bullpen session in order to let it heal. “I might just skip that to not aggravate it. I’ll give it a few extra days rest without tweaking it.”

If Washburn can’t make his start Saturday against the White Sox, right-hander Cha Seung Baek is his likely replacement.

Of note: Besides the rib inflammation that put closer J.J. Putz on the disabled list last month, he also has suffered from a finger irritation, McLaren said. The finger problem has contributed to Putz’s control problems since he came off the DL, McLaren said. … Mariners pitchers didn’t walk a batter Monday night for the first time this season. It was the 85th time in team history the M’s recorded at least seven strikeouts without issuing a walk. Each of the past three has come against the Rangers. … Sean Green’s 17 relief appearances (entering Tuesday) tied him for the American League lead. … Third-base coach Sam Perlozzo, who’s been working with a torn meniscus in his left knee, had surgery Tuesday. First-base coach Eddie Rodriguez moved to the third-base box and Tommy Cruz, who’d been coaching at Class A High Desert, was brought up to coach first.

Kirby Arnold, Herald Writer

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