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Published: Thursday, 6/3/2010

Griffey says career is over

ASSOCIATED PRESS

SEATTLE - The Kid has called it quits.

Just the way Ken Griffey Jr. wanted, there will be no farewell tour for one of the greatest players in baseball history. Instead, Griffey simply informed the Seattle Mariners yesterday that his career was over.

The 40-year-old Griffey announced his retirement before Seattle's game against Minnesota after 22 seasons, 13 all-star appearances and widespread acclaim as one of the greatest players of his generation.

Stuck in a limited role as a backup designated hitter and pinch-hitter, Griffey called Mariners' team president Chuck Armstrong and said he was done playing. Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu called his players together before batting practice to inform them of Griffey's decision.

"While I feel I am still able to make a contribution on the field and nobody in the Mariners front office has asked me to retire, I told the Mariners when I met with them prior to the 2009 season and was invited back that I will never allow myself to become a distraction," Griffey said in a statement. "I feel that without enough occasional starts to be sharper coming off the bench, my continued presence as a player would be an unfair distraction to my teammates, and their success as a team is what the ultimate goal should be," he said.

Griffey was not in the clubhouse before the game, and the team said he would not be at Safeco Field.

Griffey was hitting only .184 with no homers and seven RBIs this year and recently went a week without playing. There was a report earlier this season - which Griffey denied - that he'd fallen asleep in the clubhouse during a game.

He ends his career fifth on the all-time home run list with 630. He won an MVP award and was an 11-time Gold Glover. The only thing missing on his resume was a trip to the World Series.

A star from the time he was the overall No. 1 pick in the 1987 draft, Griffey played 22 years in the majors with Seattle, his hometown Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago White Sox. He hit .284 with 1,836 RBIs.

But his greatest seasons, by far, came in Seattle.

He won the AL MVP in 1997 and practically saved a franchise that was in danger of relocating.

His career is littered with highlights, from homering in eight straight games to tie a major league record in 1993, to furiously rounding third and sliding home safe on Edgar Martinez's double to beat the New York Yankees in the AL Division Series in 1995.

A year after making his big league debut, Griffey enjoyed one of his greatest highlights. Playing with his All-Star dad, Ken Griffey, they hit back-to-back home runs in a game for the Mariners.

For a time in the 1990s, he was considered the best player in baseball. And during the Steroids Era, his name was never linked to performance-enhancing drugs.



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