Surprised by Ken Griffey Jr.'s sudden retirement a day earlier, the Seattle Mariners were caught off-guard again Thursday when Griffey’s agent said Junior would return to the team in some capacity this season.
Agent Brian Goldberg, talking to the Associated Press, said “I promise you, he will be around plenty.”
He said Griffey’s new role is going to be long term. Goldberg said it’s unlikely to be one that has Griffey in uniform daily as a coach, at least initially.
Goldberg said the actual role for Griffey will be settled after the 40-year-old and the Mariners exchange “wish lists” of what they want his role to be.
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“He will be back in the near future, and Seattle’s fans will have the chance to see him and honor him,” Goldberg said. “He will be back for a day this season for whatever kind of ceremony the M’s want.”
Mariners spokesman Tim Hevly says the team welcomes opportunities for Griffey to return but plans are far from finalized.
Junior, who retired with a telephone call to team president Chuck Armstrong on Wednesday, was still driving to his Florida home Thursday – and the Mariners were still adjusting to his departure.
There almost certainly will be a tribute to Griffey some time this season, and a role with the team, but neither has been discussed since his announcement.
The Mariners returned their roster to 25 by filling Junior’s vacated spot with reliever Chad Cordero, brought up from Tacoma and inserted into the Seattle bullpen.
Cordero’s return to the majors, where he saved 128 games for the Washington Nationals, completes nearly two full years of rehabilitation from major shoulder surgery.
“It’s been a long road,” Cordero said. “At first, they thought I’d miss six or seven months, then it was 20 – a lot longer than I expected. There were times I didn’t think I’d get back.”
A reliever who throws 89-91 mph at his best, Cordero always relied upon his pinpoint control. Manager Don Wakamatsu said he’ll be used anywhere from the fifth to the seventh inning, and potentially pitch as often as every other game.
“We want to get him acclimated and take some of the workload off the other guys,” Wakamatsu said.
“I expect to be nervous warming up, but I hope when I get back on the mound I’ll be calm,” Cordero said.
Four days after the Mariners designated him for assignment, rookie reliever Kanekoa Texeira was grabbed off the waiver wire by the Kansas City Royals. A 24-year-old Rule 5 draftee from the New York Yankees, Texeira must remain on the 25-man roster or be offered back to his orginal team. With Seattle, Texeira was 0-1 with a 5.30 ERA. …The Tacoma Rainiers will get an influx of Mariners on Sunday, when shortstop Jack Wilson and catcher Adam Moore could begin rehab assignments and catcher Josh Bard will work out with the AAA team.
Seattle hosts the Los Angeles Angels in a 7:10 p.m. game on FSN. Probable starting pitchers: Joe Saunders (3-6, 5.09 ERA) vs. Ian Snell (0-3, 4.58).