PEORIA, Ariz. – Junior still has it.
Ken Griffey Jr. hit a grand slam off Kip Wells in the bottom of the ninth inning Friday to give the Seattle Mariners a 6-5 victory over his former team, the Cincinnati Reds.
Asked the last time he had hit a game-ending slam in any game – spring training, during any of his 24 professional seasons, at Cincinnati Moeller High School – Griffey said, “Never.”
Teammate Eric Byrnes was marveling over Griffey’s feat as he walked past the slugger in the clubhouse after the game.
“Unbelievable,” Byrnes said.
“A GRAND SLAM?” Felix Hernandez yelled from across the room in a goofy voice.
The ace then gave the 40-year-old slugger a fist bump.
Griffey, who has hit 630 home runs in his career, had swung wildly and missed with the count 3-0, looking anxious. On 3-1, he again looked antsy chasing a low pitch.
Then he drove a belt-high fastball from Wells over the right-center field fence. Griffey was grinning as he approached the plate. All the Mariners were waiting with high-fives and back slaps.
“Just one of those things,” Griffey said. “It’s spring training. Everyone’s working on something. I’m starting to be able to do some things (like wait on pitches). And I happened to get a ball up into the wind tunnel.”