I'm not going to say that today was a day that Ken Griffey Jr. jotted down on his calendar, but, I can surely bet he knew the significance of today's game in which his Mariners squashed the Arizona Diamondbacks 11-7.
Well, the importance (as I was saying before I digressed) was the fact that today's game was Junior's first Cactus league game since 1999. That, of course, was his last season with the Seattle Mariners. Now, in 2009, Ken Griffey Jr. is a Seattle Mariner again and had a pretty good reunion/return performance.
Peoria Stadium, which packed 11,062 fans, watched Griffey walk in the first inning and second inning, then drill a blazing line drive single past Arizona's second baseman Ryan Roberts in the fourth as the Mariners built a five run lead. The Mariners would go on to hold on to the lead and win the game by four runs.
Griffey will be the designated hitter again on Tuesday afternoon against the Cubs and he could see left field for the first time this spring next weekend or early the following week.
After going through arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in October, the Mariners have slowly but surely eased the progression of Junior at his own pace.
"Do you have a quarter-horse run three miles?" Griffey asked. "No, you work 'em into it. You have to build him up."
"I am probably a week behind everybody," he said of his offensive readiness. "The games are just a bonus. All the work is being done (in places) you guys don't see."
It has been special for all baseball, Mariners, and Griffey fans throughout the spring so far, and it is shaping up to be a thrilling season with No. 24 back in the Mariner saddle.
It looks as if their are still a lot of jobs open for the final opening day roster. The starting rotation at this point is no done deal with spots still open for anybody to take.
Left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith became the first Seattle starter to pitch three innings this spring. I believe Rowlan-Smith has as good a chance as anyone right now to find a spot in the rotation.
At this point, Russel Branyan's job at first base is his to lose, I don't see him not patrolling first base come opening day.
Quotes: Jim Street(mlb.com)