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Griffey being pushed to the Right

Eddie Altamonte

Dec 31, 2005
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Getting to the center of Griffey's move to right
Ken Rosenthal / FOXSports.com

When the Orioles wanted to move Cal Ripken Jr. to third base after the 1996 season, they sold him on the idea by acquiring a superior defensive shortstop, Mike Bordick.

Ken Griffey Jr. isn't as reluctant as Ripken was to change positions. But he likely would find the move easier to accept if the Reds acquired a strong replacement for him in center field.

Publicly, the Reds say their motivation for moving Griffey out of center is to reduce the wear and tear on his body and enable him to play as frequently as possible.

The unspoken truth is that Griffey, 37, is no longer the center fielder he was during his glory years with the Mariners.

He not only has lost range, but also plays with less abandon ? a natural reaction to the number of leg injuries he has suffered during his 18-year career.

Thus, the Reds are in limbo.

Asking a future Hall of Famer to change positions is a delicate balancing act that requires management to respect the player's past while being mindful of the club's future.

As the Reds enter spring training, unsure of whether Griffey will open the season in center or right, they've got several possibilities in center, but no standout candidate.

"Griff and I have talked about it a few times," Reds manager Jerry Narron says. "He knows at some point he's going to move to a corner spot just as (Ripken) knew he was going to move to third base.

Accumulating injuries mean Ken Griffey Jr. won"t be making many more of the sensational fielding plays that made him famous in Seattle.
"A lot of it is about having a regular guy to take the spot and not having Griff moving back and forth. He's open to it. But right now, unless he comes to spring training and says, 'I'm going to play right field,' he's probably going to open the spring in center."

Perhaps Griffey will make such a proclamation and end any drama. But the Reds do not have a young center fielder such as the Devil Rays' Rocco Baldelli to replace him. And Griffey might not be comfortable with the team's current options.

Ryan Freel played 54 of his 132 games in center last season, but best serves the club as a super-utility man, moving between several positions. He also plays a hustling style that borders on reckless, which could endanger not only himself, but also Griffey in right and Adam Dunn in left.

Chris Denorfia and Bubba Crosby, possible outfield reserves, are unproven as everyday players. Jay Bruce and Drew Stubbs, intriguing prospects, are not yet close to the majors.

Then there is the longest of longshots ? former phenom Josh Hamilton, who has missed most of the past five seasons due to injuries, unspecified personal reasons and drug suspensions.

The Reds acquired Hamilton, the No. 1 pick in the 1999 amateur draft, in an off-season trade with the Cubs, who selected him from the Devil Rays in the Rule V draft.

Narron plans to give Hamilton between 80 and 100 at-bats this spring and play him at all three outfield positions. Hamilton, 25, remains talented. But his rust likely will be apparent.

So, Griffey is in center, at least for the moment.

He broke his left hand in December, but is expected to be ready for Grapefruit League play. He can't hit the 37 homers he needs for 600 ? or, more importantly, help his team ? if his legs betray him again.

"A big part of him moving right now is so he cuts down on his running in the outfield," Narron says. "We want to keep him healthy. We want him to be on the field as much as he can."

"He's open-minded about it. We're open-minded about it," general manager Wayne Krivsky adds. "We want to see how spring training goes, see what's best for the team."

It's best for the team if Griffey moves to right.

If the Reds acquired a legitimate center fielder, the discussion would be over.


Apr 6, 2006
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They should of moved him awhile ago. He's one of the sluggers that needs to move to the AL so he can DH and not have to worry about pulling another hammy.

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