Reds fans say goodbye to Griffey

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CINCINNATI–Reds fans who had hoped Ken Griffey Jr.”s return home would propel them back into the World Series greeted news of his trade to the White Sox as a needed move in the rebuilding of a team that hasn”t come close.

CINCINNATI–Reds fans who had hoped Ken Griffey Jr.’s return home would propel them back into the World Series greeted news of his trade to the White Sox as a needed move in the rebuilding of a team that hasn’t come close.

The Griffey era that began with so much excitement ended with disappointment and a three-way battle to stay out of last place. Slowed by injuries and age, Griffey achieved milestones such as his 500th and 600th career home runs as a Red, but the team didn’t have a single playoff appearance.

“I think it’s a good deal for everybody,” said Brian Lamers, 43, an investment consultant. "It gives Ken Griffey a chance to be a winner and gives us a chance to build our team up. It’s a win-win. I wish him the best of luck.”

The Reds and White Sox struck a deal last week to send Griffey back to the American League and a team that leads the Central Division. 

Reds fans are well aware that Griffey is 38, that he makes $12.5 million this season and that it would cost the team $16.5 million to exercise its option to sign him for 2009.

“He’s still a productive player, still gets on base, still hits for good power,” said Mark Raines, 24, of Cincinnati. “But the Reds can”t afford $16 million for him next year; it’s just better for the Reds that they get rid of him.”

Griffey grew up in Cincinnati, the son of Reds outfielder Ken Griffey Sr., but spent his most productive years with the Seattle Mariners. He came to the Reds before the 2000 season with a nine-year, $116.5 million deal.

“We didn’t get what Seattle had, but we got a good player,” Lamers said. “I’d say he’s a very good player, but he’s getting old; it’s time to move on.”

Griffey has struggled somewhat this season, batting .245 with 15 homers and 53 RBIs. Some fans have criticized his play in right field.

"He’s clearly not as good in the field anymore," said Raines, whose first allegiance is to the Chicago Cubs.

“He’s getting older, 38, it’s time to go to the American League,” said Ed Berwanger, 54, of Cincinnati, a retired truck driver.

Griffey is the sixth player to reach 600 career home runs. He had a three-run shot in the Reds’ 9-5 win over Houston putting him at 608–one behind Sammy Sosa–and extending his hitting streak to 12 games. (AP)

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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