Last month Larry LaRue famously reported that the Mariners were either hoping or actually trying to get Ken Griffey to retire. People freaked out about that, mostly because of the sleeping-in-the-clubhouse stuff, but also over the mere suggestion that Ken Griffey Jr. should leave the game before he was good and ready to.
Ken Rosenthal thinks that, public sentiment notwithstanding, Griffey was pushed, reporting that Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu spoke in private with Griffey recently in an effort to persuade him to call it a career.
Wakamatsu said “this was Ken’s decision” and that he “would honor Ken and his career and never even approach that.” He would not, however, comment on the matter of the conversations, saying “I won’t be quoted talking about any private conversation I had with a player.”
Rosenthal also notes that Griffey’s statement yesterday -- “nobody in the Mariners’ front office has asked me to retire” -- conspicuously omits Wakamatsu from the equation. Did he ask Griffey to retire?
Given that no one is going to publicly rain on Griffey’s retirement parade now, this is probably one of those unknowable things. At least until someone writes a biography of Griffey, at which point it will only be a footnote.
Still, it’s sad to me that Griffey’s career is ending on such an ignominious note. Last year, at the end of the season Griffey left to the cheers of the fans while riding on his teammates’ shoulders. Too bad that, and not these awful past two months, wasn’t the final chapter.