Archive for Tuesday, May 7, 2002

Griffey griping about Reds fans

Injured Cincinnati slugger feeling unloved, unwelcome with hometown team

May 7, 2002


— Ken Griffey Jr. is tired of how he's being treated in his hometown.

The injured Cincinnati Reds outfielder lashed out Monday at the way fans and the media have kept him in the spotlight since he came home in a February 2000 trade with the Seattle Mariners.

With Griffey hurt again, some fans are questioning whether the trade was worthwhile.

"I get consistently beat up for no reason," Griffey said, sitting in his locker after batting practice. "It's been happening since the very first day I got here, and I'm tired of it. You try to bend over backward to do the right thing, and it just seems to get thrown in my face.

"I came here to play baseball. I took less money. I didn't whine or anything, and this is the thanks I get? I don't need that."

Griffey tore the patella tendon in his right knee on April 7 and is on the disabled list. There's no target date for his return, which is expected sometime in the next few weeks.

Since he agreed to a nine-year, $116.5 million contract to play in his hometown, Griffey has repeatedly bristled at all of the attention he receives. He had been in more of an upbeat mood this season until Monday.

Part of his anger resulted from a television station poll asking which player should sit the bench when Griffey is able to play again. Griffey was one of the four choices, and 74 percent of the fans picked him.

The Reds went on a winning streak and moved into first place in the NL Central after Griffey was hurt, but had lost four in a row heading into Monday's game against Milwaukee.

Griffey considered the television poll just another example of how he's mistreated in Cincinnati.

"I don't think anybody has even given me a chance to know who I am and my personality," Griffey said. "I'm the person that gets beat up the most for what? For no reason."

Griffey said he's been treated worse in Cincinnati than he was in Seattle.

"It's not even close," he said. "You talking about little New York here?"

Asked if he wants to leave Cincinnati, Griffey said, "I just want to play. I just want to get back on the field."

Griffey started jogging last week, but has problems when he slows down.

"Stopping. That's the problem," he said. "That's the important thing."

Manager Bob Boone said the club might have a better idea during the six-game homestand of when to expect Griffey's return.

"I'm coveting the day Junior comes back to play," Boone said. "It strengthens everything on our team.

"It's funny when I listen to all the (talk) about how we're going to trade him and the fans think we should ... It's laughable to me. When you go through a stretch like we have, when you're not hitting, having Junior in there makes a huge difference. It's gigantic."

Griffey missed much of last season with a torn hamstring and now a month of this season with the bad knee. The injuries and the team's struggles the past two seasons have led talk-show callers to question whether the Reds would be better off without him.

"I came here to play and it's like I've been fighting an uphill battle every day," Griffey said. "Am I frustrated about my injury? No, because I know it's going to get better and I'll go out and play. Am I frustrated about people taking shots at me? Yeah.

"I'm tired of it. It's been three years now not one, not a half-year, not a year and a half. It's been three."

He said his wife and children don't come to Cinergy Field very often anymore because of comments they hear.

Asked for an example, Griffey said a fan told his wife, "'You can go back to Seattle and take your husband with you.' And that was in the family section, so you can imagine how I felt about that.

"I've got to sit here and try to get my family to come see me because they don't like it here because of some of the stuff that's been said to them. That gets old real quick."

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