Soon batting, No. 24……

Batting third for the Mariners in tonight’s game against Australia….No. 24, Ken Griffey Jr.

It is the first time since Oct. 3, 1999 that Griffey’s name appeared on a Mariners lineup card, and that was the night in Oakland, the season finale, that the first 11 years of Junior’s Major League career ended.

He batted second that afternoon at then-called Network Associates Coliseum, right behind shortstop Alex Rodriguez. Griffey went 1-for-2 and took the rest of the night off.

Almost three months later, he was traded to the Reds.

Full circle returns tonight at Peoria Stadium,this time with Griffey performing as the designated hitter, a position he figures to play a lot this season.

He has been fine-tuning his swing the past 10 days, ever since he thrilled Mariner Nation by “officially” announcing that he had chosen the Mariners over the Braves.

Here is tonight’s lineup for the 6:05 p.m. PT game and televised on FSN.

1. Ronny Cedeno, 2B
2. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS
3. KEN-N-N-N Grif-f-f-f-f-ey Jun-n-n-nior, DH
4. Adrian Beltre, 3B
5. Russell Branyan, 1B
6. Wladimir Balentien, LF
7. Jeff Clement, C
8. Mike Morse, RF
9. Franklin Gutierrez, CF
P. Garrett Olson.

The starting pitcher for the Aussies is left-hander, and former Mariner, Travis Blackley.

— Jim Street

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