As usual, Ken Griffey held court for anyone willing to stop and spend a few minutes at his locker this morning.
Dressed in gray sweats and with his ever-present bat in his hands, Junior’s topics meandered from motocross racing (bet you didn’t know that his buddy James Stewart has way more cars than he does) to his three dogs to his preferred place in the batting order.
“Before this year is over, I WILL bat leadoff,” Griffey said. “Ichiro, he’ll just have to bat second.”
As with everything Griffey says, you have to filter out what’s put-on and what’s not. Yes, he is a big fan of James Stewart, the star motocross motorcycle racer. Yes, he does have dogs. No, he’s not serious about moving Ichiro down in the batting order. I think.
Speaking of the batting order, here it is for today’s intriguing matchup against Randy Johnson and the Giants at Scottsdale:
Endy Chavez, left field
Yuniesky Betancourt, shortstop
Jose Lopez, second base
Mike Sweeney, first base
Wladimir Balentien, right field
Franklin Gutierrez, center field
Matt Tuiasosopo, third base
Rob Johnson, catcher
Chris Jakubauskas, starting pitcher
Yes, the Venezuelan contingent has arrived at spring training after the World Baseball Classic and two of them, Chavez and Lopez, already are in the lineup. Also here are pitchers Felix Hernandez and Carlos Silva, both eager to get back into their spring training routines as they prepare for the season.
Hernandez will throw in the bullpen this morning and pitch in Thursday’s game against the Royals. Silva is scheduled to pitch Saturday against the Angels.
And finally, from the feels-like-old-times department. Jay Buhner is in uniform ready to spend time with the Mariners’ minor league outfielders. Of course, he dropped by Griffey’s locker and suddenly there was a 1990s feel.
Then Griffey got his jab in: “You know, they measure outfielders in dog years. That makes Jay something like 320 years old.”
Other notes from this morning:
-Mike Sweeney, the team’s DH and Director of Mood Enhancement (my label, not the team’s), gathered the team around before this morning’s workout and welcomed the four Venezuelan WBC players back.
Then he shouted, “Hats off. Moment of silence.” Of course, silence around these guys is a relative term. There was some mumbling when someone shouted, “Shut the (bleep) up! Son of a (bleep)!”
-Russell Branyan was in the original lineup at first base but was scratched because of a bruised right shin and calf after fouling a ball off his leg Sunday against the Cubs.
-Tyler Walker, sidelined by back spasms last week, threw in teh bullpen this morning.
-The Mariners’ Japanese players in the WBC, Ichiro Suzuki and Kenji Johjima, probably won’t arrive until Thursday, manager Don Wakamatsu said. The WBC final is tonight and it’s doubtful they’ll show up Tuesday. With Wednesday being an off day, Thursday he’s counting on them being in uniform Thursday.
-Griffey will play Tuesday afternoon’s game in Peoria against the Rangers, not the televised game that night against the Dodgers in Glendale. “It’s a long trip over there,” Wakamatsu said. The Dodgers’ complex is about 10 miles away.