Notes: Griffey starts out slowly at camp
Outfielder refrains from swinging bat to protect hand, wrist
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Ken Griffey Jr. is still a few days away from taking his cuts.As the Reds opened full-squad workouts on Thursday afternoon, Griffey did not take his bat into the cage. The center fielder is still strengthening the left hand he fractured in December and reported that a tendon in the wrist still has to catch up from the weeks it was immobilized in a cast over the winter. "They've got me doing other things. I just don't get to hit," Griffey said. "I'm a pitcher for a couple of days." The 37-year-old said his hand and wrist felt between 70-80 percent and that he was at least four or five days from swinging at full strength. He was considering stepping into a cage Friday just to look at pitches without hitting. Griffey said he threw at about 150 feet in the outfield with his teammates and had no trouble. Already on a different running program than the club's, he said his legs were strong. "Everyone is shagging [fly balls] and I'm out on the field running," Griffey joked. Griffey revealed last week that he broke his left hand while wrestling with his three children on the family yacht in the Bahamas. He batted .252 with 27 home runs and 72 RBIs in 109 games last season. His 563 career home runs has him tied for 10th all time with Reggie Jackson. Reds manager Jerry Narron wasn't concerned that Griffey or his hitting stroke would fall behind in Spring Training, or hold him back from Opening Day. "I'd think he'd be ready," Narron said. "He's got a history of not needing a lot of time to have a good swing." One missing: Of the 57 players slated to be at Reds Spring Training, 56 were present for the first workout. Only non-roster infielder Anderson Machado was missing. Machado was believed to be experiencing visa problems getting out of his homeland of Venezuela.
Seen and heard: Reds pitchers faced hitters Thursday in the first round of live batting practice. Since hitters are rusty, they are generally at a bigger disadvantage at first."When it comes to live batting practice before you start playing games, it's difficult for a hitter to look good," Narron said. Pitcher Paul Wilson, trying to make a comeback from 2005 shoulder surgery, was one of those who took the mound. An observing club official noticed that Wilson had good velocity and nice movement on his sinker and changeup. ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale, a Sarasota resident, gave the Reds a motivational speech before the first workout. Vitale, who often frequents the facility with members of his family, talked to the players for over 10 minutes. Signings: Infielder Jerry Gil, outfielder Josh Hamilton and right-handed pitcher Brad Salmon were signed to one-year contracts on Thursday. Helping a hospital: Griffey has been named chairman of Florida Hospital's Centennial Campaign. The campaign aims to raise $100 million by October 2008, when the Orlando-based hospital celebrates its 100th anniversary. Big difference: A reporter asked second baseman Brandon Phillips if there was a difference between Spring Training last year and this year. "I've got a job," Phillips responded without hesitation. Last spring, Phillips was cut from Indians camp and designated for assignment at the end. His career rekindled after his April trade to the Reds.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.