When will Griffey get hot?
There have been some recent inquiries about the way Ken Griffey Jr. has been hitting — or not hitting — during the first three weeks of the regular season.
I just received this one from T.J. Lee, of Spokane: Hi Jim: Junior is flat not hitting. Is he just in a slump or is it something else? I haven’t noticed anyone mention his poor performance in the media. Is the media leaving it alone because they don’t want to bad-mouth a legend?
Love your blog.
Well,T.J., one of the dangers in this business is jumping to conclusions. A baseball season lasts 162 games, not 22. Yes, Griffey is off to a slow start, but I expect him to heat up when the weather warms up.
I can’t speak for other media-types, but I am reluctant to get on the “Griffey-is-washed-up” bandwagon, which, fortunately, is not overcrowded. In my opinion, he will have a solid season. If he hits 25 home runs and drives in 70 or 80 runs, which I believe will happen, that would be more than satisfactory from the 39-year-old. His value in the clubhouse also is worth about 50 points on his batting average, along with a few home runs and RBIs. You would have had to be in the Mariners clubhouse last season, and again this season, to fully understand what I’m talking about.
From what I can gather, Griffey isn’t that far off from making solid contact more times than not. During a recent chat with him and other Mariners writers in the visiting clubhouse in Anaheim — it was not an exclusive interview as one of the Seattle-area bloggers intimated — he talked about some of the scuff marks on his bat that came from balls that he had hit, explaining that he was less than an inch away from hitting the sweet part of the bat.
Junior knows his swing better than anyone else, and when he says “I’m not that far off”, I believe him.
My advice is T.J. and everyone else is to relax and see what happens over the long run. If we get to the All-Star break and he is still hitting below .200 with few home runs and RBIs, that would be the time to get concerned, not on May 1.
Meanwhile, it is back to the AL West battles for the next five games as the Mariners play the Athletics for the fourth, fifth and sixth time this season, and get their first look at the Rangers.
If someone had told manager Don Wakamatsu — and probably any of the players along with GM Jack Zduriencik — that the Mariners would have a 13-9 record in April, I’sm sure they would have taken that in a heartbeat.
— Jim Street