Ken Griffey, Sr. Happy that Son Retired

SportsFamilyBaseballKen Griffey Jr.Ken Griffey Sr.The Associated PressMike Sweeney

Ken Griffey Jr. was driving through the nation'sheartland on the second day of his journey away from baseball lifeand toward his family in Florida. And the Mariners' now-retiredslugger felt liberated.

His own father could sense that.

"One thing I noticed yesterday when I talked to him while hewas driving home, he sounds very happy. It was kind of a relief," Ken Griffey Sr. said Friday in a telephone interview with TheAssociated Press from Dayton, Ohio, where he is in his first seasonas a hitting coach for the Class-A Dayton Dragons. "The biggestrelief was him getting to go home and be with his family."

Senior, himself a former major league star with Cincinnati's"Big Red Machine" of the 1970s and beyond, said Junior's pridewas wounded when Seattle benched the slumping .184-hitter for mostof his final two weeks.

The elder Griffey spoke to his son Thursday night as he drovethrough Kansas City. He believes that pride was part of the reasonbaseball's active leading slugger with 630 home runs and former ALMVP abruptly walked away from baseball in the middle of his 22ndseason.

"He's got a lot of personal pride, OK? And you sit there andnot get a chance to play and a week or 10 days go by ... what kindof contribution can you give a team when you are not playing?" theelder Griffey said.

"He's just not going to sit there. He's got a lot of personalpride. He thought he could still contribute. ... I mean, he doesn'thave to prove anything to anybody."

Griffey started just once in his last 15 days with the Mariners.Manager Don Wakamatsu said Thursday it was "extremely" difficultto not write Griffey's name in the lineup.

But Wakamatsu also had to find production from his offense andparticularly from the designated hitter spot, where Griffey had nohome runs this season.

Seattle had expectations of its first postseason since 2001 thisspring but was sinking while its anemic offense wasted greatpitching. The Mariners were 12 games under .500 and 8½ games out offirst place in the AL West late last month, in danger of making theremainder of the season meaningless.

Five-time All-Star Mike Sweeney took over the primary DH dutyand hit six home runs in 11 games while Griffey sat. Seattleentered Friday's series opener against the Angels six games out andon a three-game winning streak.

"Going into spring training, he figured he would get 300at-bats, something of that nature - 300-400 at-bats," Griffey Sr.said.

But Junior's surgically repaired knee was not as good as hethought it was. His swing looked slow. When he didn't produce intolate May, he didn't play and became far less of the clubhousepresence he was in his return to Seattle last year.

His father said Griffey "seems to be happy with how hehandled" his exit: a quiet departure with only a short pressrelease left behind.

"He didn't want no whoo-de-doo. He'd rather be quiet. That'sthe way he's always been," Senior said. "To me, he told theMariners, that's all he needed to do."

Griffey's agent, Brian Goldberg, was expecting to talk toMariners president Chuck Armstrong on Friday about a possible datewhen Junior could return this season for a retirement ceremony inSeattle, something the team also wants.

Goldberg and Armstrong were also expected to explore a long-termrole for Griffey that would begin in the near future with the teamwith which he broke into the majors as a teenager in 1989 and withwhich he became a star.

Goldberg said he doesn't envision Griffey being in uniform dailyas a coach, "at least not initially."

Neither does Junior's dad.

"He could probably make a pretty good coach, but I don't knowthat he wants to," said Senior, who still cherishes having been aMariners teammate of his son's in 1990 and '91. "Probably aconsultant with the team, I could see him doing that."

His father said Griffey "loves to give opinions" but wouldhate to be away from his family as a full-time coach during theseason.

Senior lives five minutes from Junior, in Winter Gardens, Fla.Now, dad's the one gone from home, while his son waits for him tocome home after baseball season.

"Yeah, now I'll be seeing him all the time," his father saidwith a hearty laugh.

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