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Originally published February 16, 2009 at 7:17 PM | Page modified February 16, 2009 at 8:52 PM


Griffey decision likely to come Tuesday

Atlanta manager Bobby Cox thinks his team has a good shot at landing outfielder

Seattle Times staff reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. — Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said Monday that he rated Ken Griffey Jr.'s choice of a team for 2009 as a 50-50 proposition between the Braves and Mariners.

"We kind of think it will be us," Cox said. "I'm sure Seattle is saying the same thing."

Griffey's decision should finally become known today as the process reaches the final stages of negotiating and, ultimately, soul-searching.

The 39-year-old outfielder, a legend in Seattle but drawn to the Braves by their proximity to his Orlando home, is being tugged in both directions. While the Braves appear to be quietly confident that he will choose their offer, there are those on the inside who say that it could still go either way.

What is known is that Griffey met Monday with Braves general manager Frank Wren somewhere in Orlando. The Braves' complex at Wide World of Sports at Disney World is located about 20 minutes from his home.

What is believed is that Griffey's agent, Brian Goldberg, is now in Orlando as well, and that he will meet with Wren today before Griffey announces his decision.

But countering that face-to-face meeting is word that Griffey reportedly met with Mariners personnel over the weekend after completing play in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in California.

Both teams' offers are said to be in the range of about $2 million, though the incentives could vary. With Atlanta, Griffey will have a chance to play outfield as part of a left-field platoon with Matt Diaz, with some time possibly in center field, while he would be primarily a designated hitter in Seattle.

There is the nostalgia factor weighing in Seattle's favor. Griffey was moved by the hero's welcome he received at Safeco Field in 2007 when he returned with the Reds, and said at the time, "I want to retire a Mariner."

That's countered by the fact that Griffey has always prioritized being close to his family. Indeed, that was the reason he requested a trade out of Seattle after the 1999 season, which landed him in Cincinnati. At the time, Atlanta was said to be one of his prime choices, but the Braves never made a strong push.

That has changed. They want him badly now. Cox said Monday he has lobbied Griffey by phone in the past week, and so has Braves star Chipper Jones. Griffey has had a fond relationship with Cox since he traded for Ken Griffey Sr. in 1986 as Atlanta's general manager.

"You know, he lives in Orlando, that's a little bit of a plus," Cox said. "And Atlanta's not a long ways from Orlando."


There were reportedly some doubts in the Braves' organization about Griffey's ability to stand up to a whole season in left, but Cox dismissed that notion. Griffey underwent knee surgery in October.

"He made it through last year pretty darned good," he said. "We think he can help. We need something, and he might foot that bill for us."

Jones told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Monday that "it sounds pretty good" for the Braves' signing Griffey, based on his conversations. But Jones added that he won't be sure "until he's signed, sealed and delivered."

That should happen today — to either Atlanta or Seattle.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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