White Sox add Griffey
By Joe Kay
CINCINNATI ó Ken Griffey Jr. is leaving home to get back in a pennant race.
The Chicago White Sox acquired Griffey from the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday, hoping the 38-year-old outfielder can help them hold onto their slim lead in the AL Central.
The Reds sent Griffey and cash to Chicago for reliever Nick Masset and Triple-A second baseman Danny Richar. The deal was announced a half-hour before the 4 p.m. deadline to make trades without waivers.
Griffey, who hit his 600th home run this season, agreed to the trade earlier in the day. Because of the cash transaction involved, the deal did not become official until the commissionerís office approved it.
White Sox general manager Kenny Williams coveted Griffey for several years. Once one of baseballís premier players, Griffey has never reached the World Series and has not even been in the playoffs since 1997 with Seattle.
iOne of the things that factored into this was a guy who has had a great career but has not won a championship and how motivated heís going to be to get on that stage,î Williams said. iThat is a factor and will always be a factor for me.î
Now older, itís uncertain how much Griffey has left in his oft-injured body.
He played right field the last two seasons but will return to center when he joins the White Sox today for the start of a series in Kansas City.
iWhen I talked to Junior, he was very honest,î Williams said. iHe said, ëWell, Iíve got to tell you, I donít know that youíre going to see the guy from Seattle.í I said, ëWeíre not looking for that guy from Seattle. What weíre looking for is for you to use your instincts.í î
Griffey takes over for Nick Swisher, who moves to first base in place of the slumping Paul Konerko. Swisher also will give up his No. 30 to Griffey, who wore it during his earliest years in Cincinnati.
iI just think thereís a lot of added things he can bring,î Swisher said. iI mean, I had posters of that guy on my wall growing up. So I think itís going to be an awesome thing for all of us.î
The trade ended a bittersweet stay with Griffeyís hometown team ó a lot of injuries, a few benchmark homers, no playoff appearances. Notably, his last hit with the Reds was a homer.
Griffey was on pace to break Hank Aaronís home run record when he came to Cincinnati in a trade with Seattle before the 2000 season. A series of severe injuries dropped him well off the pace. He finally hit No. 600 this season ó only the sixth player to reach the mark ó but struggled mightily at the plate.
Griffey hit a three-run homer in a 9-5 win at Houston on Wednesday that left him with 15 home runs, 53 RBIs and a .245 batting average this season despite playing in one of baseballís most homer-friendly ballparks. His 608th homer left him one behind Sammy Sosa for fifth place on the career list.
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said Griffey will be a designated hitter at times. Griffey batted third with the Reds but will drop to sixth or seventh with Chicago.
iWeíre going to start there,î Guillen said. iI donít know if we were going to move him up or down, but weíll start there.î
The Reds agreed to pay some of the money left on Griffeyís contract to get the deal done. He makes $12.5 million this season and has an option for 2009 at a $16.5 million salary. If the White Sox donít want to pick up next yearís option, Griffey will be owed a $4 million buyout.
Masset, a righty, was 1-0 with a 4.63 ERA in 32 games for Chicago. Richar hit .262 with nine homers for Triple-A Charlotte.