SEATTLE – Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu dismissed suggestions he had tried to pressure Ken Griffey Jr. to retire, though he did say the two hadn’t spoken in more than a week.
Wakamatsu took steps Thursday to clarify details about discussions he’d had with Griffey the past few weeks as the latter’s playing time was reduced. Though he at first declined to go into any details about a “private” conversation with a player, Wakamatsu did say that there had been numerous discussions beginning a few weeks ago in the lead up to the reduced role Griffey wound up having.
Griffey was the team’s primary designated hitter against right-handed pitchers for the first six weeks of the season. But that began to change in Baltimore, back in mid-May, right around the time a controversy about his being asleep in the clubhouse first erupted.
As time went by that week, Griffey increasingly saw his playing time cut as Mike Sweeney began to be used against right-handers and lefties. Griffey started in only one of the final dozen games for which he dressed.
A source Wednesday stated that Griffey was upset over his diminished playing time and the fact that he and Wakamatsu had not spoken about it in more than a week. Wakamatsu’s words on Thursday appear to confirm that version – at least that the pair had not spoken about playing time during his final week with the team.
But Wakamatsu continued to dispute information in a Fox Sports report Wednesday night that suggested he had irritated Griffey by broaching the subject of retirement with him during one of their conversations.