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Griffey's reputation is untarnished.


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Sunday, February 20, 2005

Griffey stands untarnished

Steroids issues swirl around other sluggers - but not Reds CF

By John Fay

Enquirer staff writer

SARASOTA, Fla. - Add this to Ken Griffey Jr.'s list of accolades and accomplishments:

He's the only active player with 500 home runs not to be accused of using steroids.

Griffey, who has 501 home runs, trails only Barry Bonds (703), Sammy Sosa (574) and Rafael Palmeiro (551) on the active list.

But Bonds, Sosa and Palmeiro have the steroid taint on their totals. Jose Canseco's new book - "Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, How Baseball Got Big" - cast the shadow of suspicion on many of the modern-day power hitters.

But not Griffey.

"I never heard even a second of doubt about him," said Peter Gammons of ESPN. "With other guys you hear, 'Oh we know he's on them.' With (Griffey) there's no chance.

"To have 500 home runs and to have hit over 50 in a season twice, that's something special for someone completely clean."

Griffey's standard response when the subject of steroids comes up is: "Look at me, do I look like I'm on steroids?"

No, he doesn't. Griffey is muscular, but in a natural sort of way.

But beyond the joking, he says:

"I take a lot of pride in what I do."

"I wouldn't do that to my team or my family," Griffey added. "That's the big thing. I'm not going to cheat them or myself."

Griffey says his current playing weight of 218 pounds is only 17 pounds more than it was when he broke into the big leagues as a 19-year-old.

By comparison, Bonds, who broke into the majors as a 21-year-old, has had his listed weight go up 43 pounds, from 185 to 228.

It's hard to judge how much the public cares about the steroids issue, but accusations clearly have hurt Bonds' image. In a recent ESPN survey, only 52.3 percent of respondents thought Bonds belonged in the Hall of Fame, even though you can make a strong argument that Bonds is the greatest player of all time statistically.

With Bonds on track to break Hank Aaron's career home-run record and Sosa only 12 from moving into the top five all time, Griffey could be lumped into the "juiced-player period" as far as baseball history is concerned.

"That's something I can't control," he said. "People who know me know I'm clean."

Gammons thinks Griffey can help restore Baseball's image.

"No question," Gammons said. "If he can get back to what he was, it would be tremendous for the game. If the Reds are good and he's having fun, it would be a good thing for Baseball."

Gammons thinks the Reds' other power hitter, Adam Dunn, can help with that, too.

"I saw him at the University of Texas," Gammons said. "He's just a big kid. That's how the game can repair itself, with players like Griffey passing it on to players like Dunn."

Reds players think the new testing policy eventually will make all of Baseball clean.

"With the restrictions, everyone's going to have to be clean," Reds catcher Jason LaRue said. "If you (use steroids), everyone is going to know it."

The Reds think the new policy will have no effect on them as a team because they are clean.

"I don't think we'll have anyone test positive," LaRue said. "I've never seen it around here."

Closer Danny Graves agrees.

"I heard more about it in college than I have here," Graves said. "The whole steroid thing hasn't been a big issue here like it has been with the A's and Yankees because we haven't had anyone accused of it."

Griffey says he has never been approached about steroids and has no first-hand knowledge of anyone in Baseball doing them.

"It just wasn't for me," he said. "If you go to any prominent gym, you can say, 'This guy's doing it.' But, as far as Baseball, nobody's ever talked about it around me."

Given Griffey's recent history of injuries - he has averaged 68 games a season over the last three years - has he been tempted to give his body an artificial boost?

"No," he said. "That's just not me."

And for the record, he doesn't think it would have helped.

"My injuries have been tendons and knees and ankles - not muscle-related," he said.

A strong case could be made that Bonds prolonged his career, playing at a higher level at a later age, because of steroids - whether he knowingly or unknowingly (as he claims) used them.

Griffey would not do that.

"When time is up, it's up," Griffey said. "I'm not going to do anything to change that."

Here's a look at Junior's career:

• He led the American League in homers four times - with 40 in 1994, 56 in 1997 and 1998, and 48 in 1999.

• Discounting the 1995 season in which he missed nearly three months to injury, he hit at least 40 home runs in seven straight seasons.

• In the decade of the '90s, his 382 home runs were second to Mark McGwire (405).

• His 501 home runs are fourth highest among all active players, behind Barry Bonds (703), Sammy Sosa (574) and Rafael Palmeiro (551).

• His 501 career home runs rank 20th on the all-time list.

• A 35-home-run season would pull him into a tie with Mickey Mantle for 12th all-time.

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Sunday, February 27, 2005

Q&A with Ken Griffey Jr.

Name: Ken Griffey Jr.

Position: Center fielder

Age: 35

Born/Resides: Donora, Penn./Orlando, Fla.

Height/Weight: 6-3, 218

Throws/Bats: L/L

Acquired: From the Mariners in exchange for pitcher Brett Tomko, outfielder Mike Cameron, pitcher Jake Meyer and infielder Antonio Perez Feb. 10, 2000.

Question: If you weren't playing baseball what would you be?

Griffey: An architect.

Q: What is your most prized possession?

G: I don't think I have one.

Q: When you're in Cincinnati, what place do you enjoy eating at?

G: I'll eat anywhere. It just depends on my mood.

Q: Then what's your favorite food?

G: If I had to eat anywhere I'd probably go to Benihanas because the chef has been there since I was about 7 (years old). After Opening Day I'd go there. I still do that.

Q: Who makes up your dream golf foursome?

G: It's already happened. And it really wasn't a foursome. I played with Tiger (Woods), Mark (Calcavecchia), Payne (Stewart), John Cook, Lee Janzen, Grant Waite all at once.

Q: What is your most embarrassing on-field moment?

G: There were two outs and a fly ball was hit into left field and I just kept on running. I was with Seattle and it happened in Kansas City. I remember it really well.

Q: Finish this sentence: The best part about being a dad is ...?

G: Teaching and learning.

Q: What values do you try to instill in your children?

G: Just to be the best that they can be, that they have potential, in athletics and as a person. As a player when your teammates come to you and say, "I wish we had more kids like yours that come into the clubhouse." That is the greatest compliment you can get as an athlete.

Q: The best part about being married is ...?

G: Sharing and responsibility. Raising a kid is tough.

Q: What do you typically do for your wife on Valentine's Day?

G: If you get your girlfriend some chocolate, she'll accept it. But when you're married you can't be buying chocolate every year. It's tough. You've got to figure out what's good, what's bad.

But you can never go wrong with flowers and a gift. I've got to get flowers for two people in my house because my daughter would be like, "How come I didn't get any flowers?"

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"People who know me know I'm clean."

He can thank the fine way his father brought him up for a large part of that statement. Even when it was a "gray area", it still wasn't natural, or the right or fair thing to do in the spirit of the game, so he never considered it I'm sure.

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