Griffey Jr. back at Mariners' camp with new job

Griffey Jr. back at Mariners' camp with new job

Credit: AP

In this photo taken Tuesday, June 1, 2010, Seattle Mariners' Ken Griffey Jr. watches the baseball game from the dugout against the Minnesota Twins in Seattle. Griffey announced his retirement Wednesday, June 2, ending one of the great careers in baseball history. The 40-year-old Griffey told the Mariners that he was done playing, and manager Don Wakamatsu made the announcement before Seattle faced Minnesota. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

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by Associated Press

NWCN.com

Posted on March 16, 2011 at 5:43 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 16 at 6:32 PM

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Ken Griffey Jr. says he was only thinking of his teammates when he retired abruptly last June, and he's returning to Seattle for a similar reason: to help the organization that gave him his start.

Griffey arrived Wednesday afternoon at the Mariners' spring training headquarters to begin his job as a special consultant. In his new role, Griffey will work with minor leaguers and might make an occasional appearance in the TV booth.

For his first task, the 13-time All-Star sought to make clear that his sudden retirement was because he didn't want to be a distraction to the team.

"I'm not upset. I think people thought I was upset at certain things," Griffey said. "I just felt that it was more important for me to retire and instead of being a distraction, it no longer became the Seattle Mariners, it became, 'When is Ken doing this? When is Ken doing that?' and that's something I didn't want to have my teammates, who I truly cared about, having to answer these types of questions day in and day out."

the team.

Griffey wouldn't go into much more detail, even though he was asked if he could have kept playing until the end of the season and whether he could have been talked out of retiring.

"That's not important. The important thing is it was time. That's all that needs to be said," Griffey said. "Those are what-if questions. I thought I did what was best for myself and for the team."

Griffey, often referred to as "The Kid" for his youthful exuberance, spent his first 11 major league seasons in Seattle and rejoined the club in 2009. He reflected on his decision to walk away without fanfare, saying he never wanted a major press conference and that he retired on his own terms, regardless of how Mariners fans felt.

"You want me to apologize for something that I felt was right? I felt that it was right for me to leave? I'm not going to do that," Griffey said. "It's not intended to hurt people, it was a decision that I made.

"I had to worry about doing what was best for me," he added.

Griffey had a strained relationship with manager Don Wakamatsu, who was fired two months after Griffey left, and he said they haven't spoken.

"My phone rings," Griffey said. "That's just the way it is."

Griffey ruled out any comeback and said he doesn't regret returning to Seattle for what would be a shortened 2010 season.

Now, he's willing to do whatever the organization meeds.

"This is the organization I grew up in, so if there was going to be an opportunity for me to be in baseball it was going to be here," he said. "It's a lot of learning. ... I'm still going to be the same person, I'm not going to change. You're going to know exactly how I feel. It's a chance to help kids get better."

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