SEATTLE — Seattle Mariners outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. retired Wednesday, ending one of the great careers in baseball history.
The 40-year-old Griffey told the Mariners that he was finished playing, and manager Don Wakamatsu made the announcement before Seattle faced Minnesota.
“While I feel I am still able to make a contribution on the field and nobody in the Mariners front office has asked me to retire, I told the Mariners when I met with them prior to the 2009 season and was invited back that I will never allow myself to become a distraction,” Griffey said in a statement.
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“I feel that without enough occasional starts to be sharper coming off the bench, my continued presence as a player would be an unfair distraction to my teammates and their success as a team is what the ultimate goal should be,” he said.
Griffey was hitting only .184 with no homers and seven RBIs this year and recently went a week without playing. There was a report earlier this season — which Griffey denied — that he’d fallen asleep in the clubhouse during a game.
Griffey was a perennial All-Star outfielder and ranks fifth on the career home run list with 630. He won a most valuable player award and was a Gold Glove winner. The only thing missing on his resume was a trip to the World Series.
He played 22 years in the majors with Seattle, his hometown Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago White Sox. He hit .284 lifetime with 1,836 RBIs.
For a time in the 1990s, he was considered the best player in baseball. But then injuries began to take their toll and his production started to decline.