SEATTLE — The Countdown to Cooperstown continues for Ken Griffey Jr., who appears this week on one of Sports Illustrated’s regional covers. (LINK TO VIDEO CLIP FROM INTERVIEW.)
Some gems from the story by Ben Reiter:
***On his legacy: "A couple things I’m gonna be remembered for: the hat backwards and the swing… And the smile."
***On retiring quietly: "There’s certain people who like the fanfare and the waving goodbye, getting the rocking chair and the cowboy boots… Not me."
***On why he avoided performance-enhancing drugs: "I was already the highest-paid player in baseball when all this started…I’m already established. I’ve already been on covers of magazines. I’ve got my own video game, my own candy bar. Where am I gonna go from there?"
***On setting a record for the highest vote percentage in the history of Hall of Fame voting but falling four votes shy of being unanimous: "How I explain it is, other people need votes.. He’s gonna get in, so let me use my vote for this guy who’s on the cusp. Being the highest vote getter of all time? That’s a wow in itself.
Griffey and catcher Mike Piazza will be inducted July 24 into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
VINCENT TO DISABLED LIST
Right-handed reliever Nick Vincent replaced lefty starter Wade Miley on the disabled list.
The Mariners placed Vincent on the DL prior to Wednesday’s game against Pittsburgh because of a mid-back strain. The move is retroactive to Monday and cleared space on the active roster for Miley, who then started against the Pirates.
Vincent, 29, sported a wrap around his midsection following Tuesday’s victory over Pittsburgh. He traced the problem to pitching 2 2/3 innings — his longest outing in more than three years — on June 15 at Tampa Bay.
"I came in the next day," Vincent said, "and it was just real stiff. I could deal with that. But then it started gradually spreading to along the ribs. It didn’t feel worse, but it spread to different areas.
"It’s one thing, and I don’t want it to lead to another thing.
Vincent is 2-3 with a 3.47 ERA in 35 games but has allowed four runs, including three homers, in 5 1/3 innings in five games since that extended outing at Tampa Bay.
"He tried to pitch through it," manager Scott Servais said. "He is a tough guy. He’s taken the ball every time we’ve asked him to. He agreed this was probably the best thing for him to do, and for our club, right now."
Vincent said his recovery plan calls for no throwing for five days.
"I thought it would go away," he said, "but it hasn’t gone away. So I talked with Jerry (Dipoto) and the trainers, and we decided to take off for two weeks. Get it better and be back and ready for the second half."
Miley, 29, returned to active duty for the first time since an in impingement in his shoulder forced him to the disabled list after a June 12 start against Texas. He entered Wednesday’s start at 6-3 with a 5.28 ERA in 13 starts.
KARNS ON NEW ROLE
Right-hander Nathan Karns, one day after being demoted to the bullpen, chose to look on the positive side.
"I have another opportunity," he said, "to stay in this locker room and help contribute to wins. An opportunity to stay here and contribute is how I’m taking it.
"I can’t be disappointed. I put myself in that situation. I’ve always been told, `if you don’t like it, play better.’ I’m going to try to do whatever they ask me to the best of my ability."
Karns lost his job after a five-start stretch in which he failed to pitch past the fifth inning while allowing 19 runs on 26 hits and 17 walks over 23 1/3 innings. He is 6-2 with a 4.56 ERA overall is 15 starts.
"I would prefer to go back to being a starter," he said. "But at the same time, I have an opportunity here. So I’m not going to sit here and whine and make excuses about it. I’m going to take it and run with it and do the best I can with it."
First baseman D.J. Peterson’s recent surge earned him a promotion from Double-A Jackson to Triple-A Tacoma.
Peterson, 24, batted .326 in 24 games since June 1 at Jackson with eight doubles, six homers and 16 RBIs. His season totals are up to 11 homers, 43 RBIs and a .271 average in 73 games.
The Mariners selected Peterson with the 12th overall pick in the 2013 draft. He slumped last season after being cited by the organization in 2014 as their co-minor-league player of the year.
It was one year ago Thursday — June 30, 2015 — that Mike Montgomery pitched a one-hit shutout in a 5-0 victory at San Diego. The only hit was a one-out double by Yangervis Solarte in the seventh inning.
Montgomery lowered his ERA to 1.62, which was the lowest ever achieved by a Mariners starter through the first six games of his career. He would finish the season at 4-6 with a 4.60 ERA and back in the minors.
The Mariners shifted Montgomery this spring to bullpen duty and, through Tuesday, he was 2-3 with a 2.38 ERA in 28 games.
The Mariners open a four-game series against the Orioles at 7:10 p.m. Thursday at Safeco Field. The Mariners won two of three when the clubs played May17-19 in Baltimore.
Right-hander Taijuan Walker (3-6 with a 3.45 ERA) returns to the Mariners’ rotation after missing one turn because of tendinitis in his right foot. Baltimore will start right-hander Chris Tillman (10-1, 3.52).
Tillman is a former Mariners prospect and has long tormented his former organization at 7-0 with a 2.96 ERA in nine career starts. He limited the Mariners to two runs in 6 1/3 innings on May 18 in a 5-2 victory over Walker.
The Mariners selected Tillman in the second round of the second round of the 2006 draft but traded him to Baltimore on Feb. 8, 2008 with outfielder Adam Jones, reliever George Sherrill and two other players for pitcher Erik Bedard.
The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners