Saturday, August 24, 2002

Griffey plays LF to ease injured hip




By John Fay jfay@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HOUSTON - “Back in the lineup and starting in left field, Ken Griffey Jr.”

        That's right, left field.

        Griffey returned to the Reds' lineup Friday after missing six starts with a strained hip flexor/quadriceps. He started in left field rather than center because there is less territory to cover, particularly with Minute Maid Park's 315-foot short porch.

        “It's that last 10, 15 feet that (the injury) starts grabbing him,” Reds manager Bob Boone said.

        Griffey was OK with the move to left field.

        “I'll just stand there on the warning track,” he said. “There's about 20 yards to left or ri ght.”

        Griffey has played both left and right field. He played left for one game in 1997 and one in 1998. Both times, he started the game in center and moved there. Griffey played right in 1993 after Seattle Mariners teammate Eric Anthony got ejected. Brian Tarang came in to replace Anthony.

        “(Tarang) couldn't throw out of this clubhouse,” Griffey said. “He had arm surgery and was sti ll coming back.”

        Griffey also has played first base, in 1993.

        “Randy (Johnson) wanted to play left,” Griffey said. “It was at the end of the year, so I said I'd play first. It was against Minnesota. (Kent) Hrbek and (Kirby) Puckett both hit that inning.”

        Neither hit the ball to Griffey, who had one putout on a comebacker to the pitcher.

        Griffey figures moving to a new position is a natural progression.

        “As you get older, you go from center to right, then to left, then to first base, then to designated hitter in the American League, then you retire,” he said. “I figure I've got 15 years left.”

       



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