Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Griffey tired of negative remarks

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Ken Griffey Jr. is fed up with the treatment he's getting from the fans and media. He stopped short of saying he wants out of Cincinnati, but he's clearly unhappy here.

junior         “I'm tired of it,” he said. “I'm tired of getting beat up. It's been three (blanking) years of the same (stuff).”

        What set Griffey off was a fan poll taken by Channel 12 on April 28. The station asked viewers, “Who would you sit on the bench when Ken Griffey Jr. returns?” The choices were Griffey, Juan Encarnacion, Austin Kearns and Adam Dunn.

        The overwhelming majority of 800 people who called in — 74 percent — chose Griffey.

        “I get beat up for no reason,” Griffey said. “They keep picking on me. I'm not playing, so they throw me in the poll. ... The question was set up to make me look bad.”

        Channel 12 sports director Brad Johansen said there was no such intent.

        “We would never use a question to make anyone look bad,” he said. “We used the question to see how our viewers feel. We have no control over that.”

        Griffey says he hasn't even discussed playing somewhere else with his family. But the most upsetting thing to him is the effect this has had on his wife, Melissa, and their two children, Trey and Taryn.

        “I've been trying to get my family to come here,” Griffey said. “But they don't like to because of things said at the ballpark, said to them. That gets old real quick.”

        Asked for an example, Mr. Griffey said a fan shouted this at his wife at a game in Cinergy: “"Go back to Seattle and take your (blanking) husband with you,' and that was in the family section.”

        Griffey has been out for the last four weeks with a torn patella tendon in his right knee. He will be in the lineup and batting third the day he is medically cleared.

        “I find all these comments and talk about what to do when he gets back laughable,” Reds manager Bob Boone said. “Junior makes a huge, gigantic difference for us. ... I'm coveting the day he comes back.”

        Griffey thinks once he does return, a lot of the talk will die down.

        “All I want to do is play baseball, the game I love,” he said. “This is the thanks I get. I get beat up by talk show hosts. All they care about is their ratings.”

        Griffey came to the Reds in February 2000 in a trade with Seattle. He signed an eight-year contract for $116.5 million. The contract was considerably less than Griffey likely could have gotten on the open market and much of the money is deferred.

        Negative publicity “started the first day,” he said. “I'm tired of it. I came here for less money. I've bent over backwards doing the right things. It always seems to get thrown in my face.”

        Griffey says he's been treated worse here — his hometown — than he ever was in Seattle.

        “It's not even close,” he said. “You're talking about little New York here.”

        The torn patella is the second major injury Griffey has suffered in his time with the Reds. He missed 70 starts last season with a torn hamstring muscle.

        “The guy's been hurt,” Boone said. “The talk about who should go, could go ... We want Junior to get back to the way he played last August. He's 32. I'm not about to give up on Junior.”

        Griffey is getting close to being ready to return to the lineup. The knee still bothers him when he stops suddenly when running. He was expected to miss three to six weeks when the injury occurred. Sunday marked four weeks.

        “I just want to go out and play, get back on the field,” he said. “I don't think anybody knows me. I don't think they have had a chance to get to know me or my personality.”


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