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You really can go home again - Welcome back Jr.
February 18th, 2009 10:55 PM

Griffey headed back to Seattle on 1-year deal

by Ken Rosenthal

Ken Rosenthal has been the senior baseball writer for since Aug. 2005. He appears weekly on the FSN Baseball Report and MLB on FOX.

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Updated: February 18, 2009, 11:04 PM EST
In a stunning turn of events, free-agent outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. has spurned the Braves to return to the Mariners, the team announced Wednesday night.

"He's coming home. ... I can't begin to tell you how ecstatic we are. He is, too," Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik told the The Associated Press, calling Griffey "arguably one of the greatest athletes to ever play in the Seattle area."

"Ken is extremely excited to be coming back to Seattle," Zduriencik said.

The deal is for one-year, $2 million, according to major-league sources. It also includes incentive bonuses based on Griffey's playing time and the Mariners' attendance, one source said.

Griffey seemingly had been leaning toward the Braves, with Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones saying early Wednesday morning, "All signs are good."

The Braves train near Griffey's home in Orlando, and Atlanta is far more accessible for his family than Seattle. But after several days of deliberations — he was "truly agonizing," one source said — Griffey chose to return to his original team.

"We were informed tonight that Ken Griffey Jr. has decided to return to Seattle," Braves general manager Frank Wren told AP. "We will continue to be open to other possibilities to improve our outfield offense and, at the same time, give our young players an opportunity to show us they can win that job."

Griffey's decision marks another setback in an offseason full of unusual twists for the Braves, who failed in attempts to land Padres right-hander Jake Peavy in a trade and right-hander A.J. Burnett and shortstop Rafael Furcal in free agency.

Griffey, 39, would have assumed a much less prominent role than any of those players, platooning in left field with Matt Diaz. The Braves now figure pursue to another left-handed hitter, Garret Anderson, who also had been a free-agent target of the Mariners.

While the Braves are expected to be more competitive than the Mariners this season, Griffey will benefit from his return to the American League, in which he can serve as a designated hitter as well as an outfielder.

I am so happy that Jr. is coming home. He is the Mariners. My daughter was 6 when Jr. left Seattle, that was her first year in T-Ball, and I selected the #24 for her. She is now 16 and an awesome fastpitch player, she still wears #24. Finally this year we will go to Safeco and see Jr. play. I hope after that she will understand why I selected #24 for her...




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Posted by Kelly A. Kelsoe on February 18th, 2009 10:55 PMPost a Comment

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