Saturday, March 1, 2003

So far, so good: Griffey looking like his old self

Homer gives Junior 4 RBI in early going

By Kevin Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FORT MYERS, Fla. - The daughter turned to her father three weeks ago with a question.

"Daddy, how long have you been playing baseball?" the 7-year-old asked.

Ken Griffey Jr. counted up the seasons, whizzing by the achievements and accolades, to reach the answer.

"Fifteen years," he said Friday. "She looked at me and goes, 'You're old.' "

Griffey, who doesn't turn 34 until November, certainly is an elder when compared to many in the Reds clubhouse.

Cincinnati has the second-youngest 40-man roster in the majors.

"One day you're the kid," Griffey said, "and the next day you're the veteran."

Following a roller-coaster offseason that included the near-trade to San Diego, Griffey the veteran has looked sharp in his first two spring training games.

He hit a towering three-run homer off Red Sox starter John Burkett in the second inning of Friday's 12-7 loss at the City of Palms Park.

"I'm just trying not to strike out, see as many pitches as I can to try and get ready," he said. "The first couple of days of spring training, you're trying to get your timing. It'll come, but you have to be patient."

The focus this spring will continue to be keeping Griffey healthy while preparing for the regular season.

Griffey's games-played total has decreased in each of his past four seasons - from 161 in 1998 with Seattle to 70 last season.

He has batted .275 with 70 homers and 206 RBI since the Reds traded for him in 2000, missing considerable time during the past two years with various leg injuries.

"Hopefully, we can keep him feeling good," manager Bob Boone said. "Right now we're seeing what you'd expect from one of the all-time great players that's working himself into baseball shape."

Griffey, who spent the offseason working with personal trainer Dave Oliver to strengthen his legs, is 1-for-4 with two runs and four RBI in two games thus far. He is expected to play the next two, against the Twins today and Pirates on Sunday.

"I think he's really motivated," Boone said. "It's probably the first time in quite a while that he's felt good.

"He wants to do well. He's a very motivated player. That's what we expect of him."

If he's healthy I know he will (produce). That's been the issue since Day 1."

Red Sox 12, Reds 7

The bats: The Reds were winning this one 7-5 when the regulars called it a day. Before they took the rest of the day off, they beat up on the Sox pretty badly. Wily Mo Pena, Ken Griffey Jr. and Aaron Boone homered, as did Brandon Larson - sort of. Larkin, in his first outing of the spring, had two hits. Boone had two hits for the second straight day.

The arms: Starter Danny Graves allowed four runs on six hits. Rule 5 pick-up Jerome Gamble allowed three runs without recording an out against the team from which the Reds picked him. John Riedling allowed three hits and three runs in an inning of work.

The rest: Larson's home run was ruled a single when he passed Ruben Mateo while rounding first base.

Up next: The Reds open at home against the Minnesota Twins in a 1:05 p.m. game (WLW-AM 700). Right-hander Chris Reitsma will start against left-hander Eric Milton.

Larkin ss3120Damon cf3121
Olmedo ss2000Brown cf3011
Boone 2b3121Mueller 3b1100
Dawkins 2b1000Youkilis 3b2010
Griffey Jr cf3113Walker 2b3120
Taylor cf2000Santos 2b2010
Kearns rf3000Ramirez lf3010
Thomas 1b1000Collier pr-lf2110
Cruz 1b1000Millar 1b3011
Brown rf0000Snyder 1b2220
Dunn lf3010Zuleta dh2110
Smithrmn lf2000Ortiz ph1210
Mateo dh3110Nixon rf3110
Guerro ph-dh1000Crespo rf1101
Larson 3b4121Mirabelli c3001
Crespo 3b1010Loyd c2124
Pena 1b-rf2112Jackson ss3001
CMiller c2110Sanchez ss1001
Sardinha c0000

Boston (ss)12110043x-12

E-Olmedo, Kearns. LOB-Cincinnati 7; Boston 10. 2B-Dunn, CMiller, Sardinha, Walker, Millar, Ortiz, Nixon. HR-Boone (1), Griffey Jr. (1), Pena (1), Damon (1), Loyd (1). SF-Sanchez.

Graves2 1-364410
Chen1 2-321121
Gamble L,0-1023310
Arroyo W,1-0100001
HBP-by Heredia (Crespo).

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