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CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Short Hops: Griffey sleeping in Seattle not a problem, just his bat


Short hops, quick pops and backhand stops:

 I do not know if Ken Griffey Jr. was asleep in the clubhouse last week as a pinch-hit opportunity was closing in for the Mariners.

I do know Griffey's bat has been sleeping all season.

That, more than anything else you're hearing, is the problem. Let's make this perfectly clear: Production is more required than No-Doz.

Ken Griffey Jr. is hitting .200 and has yet to hit a homer this year. (AP)  
Ken Griffey Jr. is hitting .200 and has yet to hit a homer this year. (AP)  
This is not the way anybody wanted to see one of the most classy and impressive players of our generation go out. And again, I'm not speaking specifically of whether or not Griffey was catnapping in the clubhouse because, frankly, some players sleep in the clubhouse more often than you would think. I don't want to make it sound like teams pass out graham crackers and milk and conduct nap time. But ... Barry Bonds? I think he was narcoleptic in his later years -- especially when he was given a day off and, yes, napped in the clubhouse on occasion before pinch-hitting later in the game.

But nobody said anything when Bonds was launching home runs into McCovey Cove. The Giants could have gifted him with a pillow for his tricked-up massage chair, and everybody would have said, "Great idea!"

Griffey's biggest crime isn't that he was sleeping, or when he was sleeping. It's that he's hitting .200 with a .487 OPS. That OPS -- on-base percentage plus slugging percentage -- is the third worst in the AL among hitters with 70 or more at-bats. He also has yet to homer, and he has just five RBI in 24 games.

 Homerless in Seattle at this point is far more bothersome than Sleepless in Seattle, or Sleeping in Seattle, especially when Meg Ryan isn't even around to brighten things up. And particularly with the Mariners ranking 29th in the majors in OPS (.637). Griffey's sole purpose for being around is to provide at least a modicum of pop in the DH role. Isn't happening.

Everyone loved having him around last year. He helped bring together what had been a fractured clubhouse in 2008, and though he hit only .214, he did bash 19 homers and added 57 RBI. You can't go home again? Ha. When the season ended, the Mariners players carried Griffey off the field on their shoulders.

That's the snapshot that should be on the final page of Griffey's Hall of Fame career.

 Instead, this. The blame for it falls mostly on the Mariners, because they are the talent evaluators here and they're the ones who offered Griffey $2.35 million to extend his career another season despite his steady decline over the past several summers.

Now, there is no good way this can end, not unless lightening suddenly strikes Griffey's bat. And the way that's slowed, even a case or two of Red Bull probably will not jack that into action.

That leaves just two other options -- the Mariners releasing him or Griffey retiring. Griffey could do himself and everyone else a service by making the latter call himself, preferably sometime before his static stat line sinks into the red.

Until then, move along. There's nothing to see here.

 Since Dusty Baker lectured second baseman Brandon Phillips for failing to run hard on a ball he hit off of the wall that became a double instead of a triple on May 5, the Reds are 5-1. "What's tough as a manager is when you've got an A student who's getting B's," Baker told Cincinnati reporters that day.

 Since then, it's been mostly A's for all the Reds, who have won five in a row and 12 of 16 thanks to a surge of starting pitching that is as good as Cincinnati fans have enjoyed in a long time. Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto threw back-to-back complete-game shutouts on Tuesday and Wednesday, becoming the first to do that in the majors without issuing a walk since Tim Hudson and Barry Zito, then of Oakland, did it Sept. 9-10, 2000.

 Last time the Reds got consecutive complete-game shutouts from their starters? Jose Rijo and Tom Browning back on June 9 and 10, 1989. Their starters now have thrown 20 consecutive scoreless innings (Bronson Arroyo started the streak) and they've allowed just one run over their past 29 inning. Yes, most of that came against the lowly Pirates, but you play the teams the schedule tells you and if you think you can contend -- as the Reds do -- you've got to beat up on the weaklings.

 The schedule now turns for the Reds: Trailing St. Louis by a game in the NL Central, they host the Cardinals for three this weekend. Pitching matchups: Aaron Harang vs. Jaime Garcia on Friday, Mike Leake vs. Adam Wainwright on Saturday and Arroyo vs. Brad Penny on Sunday.

 Forget that late-May, early-June timetable that was floated last winter, even agent Scott Boras does not know when Carlos Beltran will return to the Mets. "I don't have a timetable," Boras says. "It's how he feels. Obviously, he's progressing. At what rate, I don't know." Beltran, rehabbing after his controversial winter knee surgery, has just begun light running and, at this point, it sure seems highly doubtful he'll return before the All-Star break. "Obviously, it takes time to put his stride back together," Boras says.

 Great moments in promotions: The Rockies canceled their second annual Weather and Science Day at Coors Field on Wednesday because of ... inclement weather and cold temperatures.

 Definition of an even trade: Minnesota sent center fielder Carlos Gomez to the Brewers for shortstop J.J. Hardy over the winter and, on Wednesday, the Twins placed Hardy on the disabled list with a bruised wrist ... and the Brewers placed Gomez on the DL with knee and shoulder injuries.

 Booing little David Eckstein is like booing hot fudge sundaes, Fourth of July picnics and a day at the zoo. But credit those zany San Francisco fans for, um, great memories, I guess. Apparently still stinging from the 2002 World Series loss to Anaheim, which featured Eckstein at shortstop, they loudly gave Eck the business this week as the Padres took another series.

 Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon, dismissing the potential distraction for his team regarding the looming prospect of losing outfielder Carl Crawford and first baseman Carlos Pena to free agency following this season: "That has been said, but that's who we are. We're going to be faced with that on an annual basis, keeping one eye on the present and one on the future. If you're a Ray, this is how the Rays operate. This is how the Rays have to operate. You should not be concerned or surprised."

 It's getting uglier by the day with the Angels who, at 15-21, are off to their worst start in 20 years (14-22 in 1990). And that sign-stealing controversy in Colorado this week with Phillies bullpen catcher Mick Billmeyer and his pair of binoculars? "I've got the Rally Monkey out there," Angels hitting coach Mickey Hatcher quips. "But he ain't helping us right now."

 As they've retooled their rotation, so far Scott Kazmir (2-3, 6.82 ERA) has been a bust for the Angels. Manager Mike Scioscia and pitching coach Mike Butcher met with Kazmir for nearly an hour this week looking for answers. The most crucial weapon that's gone missing for Kazmir is his slider. "When I first got there, man, it was lightning, it was like Ron Guidry's, a really nasty, put-away kind of pitch, says Maddon, who spent nearly four seasons with Kazmir in Tampa Bay. "It was a real good strike-out pitch. He was able to throw it to the back foot of right-handers and down and away from lefties. It's no secret he's had a problem with it the last couple of years."

 Ozzie Guillen Tweet of the Week: "Target fields best stadium in the american league."


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