PEORIA, Ariz. – Sporting a bucket hat with sunglasses, Ken Griffey Jr. arrived at the Seattle Mariners’ spring training complex Friday with the kind of reception reserved for a veteran and clubhouse leader.
Griffey embraced manager Don Wakamatsu and general manager Jack Zduriencik, and bellowed greetings to teammates from across the clubhouse.
Slated to be the M’s designated hitter, Griffey flew overnight from Florida after watching his daughter’s basketball game. He took his physical Friday after proclaiming that he’d lost 7 pounds through dieting and exercise.
Griffey talked to most everyone in sight, even fans. He held court outside the complex with a group of fans following his physical.
“Good to see him,” Wakamatsu said. “It got real loud in there. It’s amazing how one guy can change the karma of the room.”
Other Mariners position players arrived in camp, including third baseman Chone Figgins and outfielders Franklin Gutierrez and Ryan Langerhans.
Mike Sweeney, another team leader from last season, is expected Sunday after signing a minor league deal last week.
“When you get Griff in here, it kind of puts pressure on everyone else,” Wakamatsu said. “I just called (Sweeney). I said ‘Griff’s here, where you at?’ He said, ‘I got a late invitation. It wasn’t my fault.’ ”