Brennaman 'shocked' by Griffey deal
Bruce also surprised to see his boyhood idol traded by Reds
CINCINNATI -- It was an unexpected, but poignant, moment between two iconic figures with the Cincinnati Reds.In the wee hours of Thursday morning, after the Reds' charter flight arrived in Washington, D.C., from Houston, the team arrived at its hotel. Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman found himself sharing an elevator with Ken Griffey Jr. "When we got to my floor, [Griffey] put his briefcase in front of the door and said, 'You got a minute?'" Brennaman told MLB.com. "He said, 'I want to thank you. You've been very fair to me and I appreciated that.'"
A confused Brennaman didn't know what was going on."What are you talking about?" he said. "He said, 'I've been traded,'" Brennaman said. "I said 'Junior, it's 5 a.m. and I don't have time for this. I'm tired and going to bed.' "He showed me the message on his iPhone from [agent] Brian Goldberg." Griffey apparently learned he was being dealt to the White Sox shortly after the Reds played the Astros. Because of his no-trade clause, he had until 1 p.m. ET on Thursday to approve of it, which he did sometime in the morning.
"It was almost sad," Brennaman said. "He was very honest and it made me feel good with what he said to me, because we had our differences in the past."
This was expected to be the final season for Griffey in Cincinnati. He was in the final season of a nine-year, $116.5 million contract that carried a hefty $16.5 million club option for 2009.Still, no one saw this early departure coming. There had been no rumors circulating about Griffey in the days and weeks leading up to Thursday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline. "I was shocked," said Brennaman, a Reds' voice since 1974 and a 2000 Ford Frick Award winner in the Hall of Fame. "I questioned whether there was a market for him. Obviously, there was. It's a great opportunity for him, because [the White Sox] can get to the postseason and once you get to the postseason, who knows what can happen. I really believed he would end the year here." So did rookie Jay Bruce, who is likely to shift from center field to right field into Griffey's spot. Bruce grew up idolizing Griffey, right down to wearing the same shoes and imitating his swing and was excited about playing on the same team with a future Hall of Famer. Bruce said he and Griffey spoke briefly about the trade on Thursday morning. "It was a lot more brief than I thought it was going to be," Bruce told MLB.com of their time as teammates. "It was kind of shocking. All of sudden, bam, it was done. He is still going to be a friend of mine. I'm upset that he's leaving, but it's a good situation for him. He wants to win a ring. The White Sox are in first place and he has a chance." From the opening days of Spring Training, Bruce immediately made strides to learn and apprentice under Griffey and veteran outfielder Adam Dunn. The time with Griffey was even more valuable now that Bruce knows it's over. "On and off the field, just to see how to deal with everything -- the positive and the negative, in and out and everything -- he is still level-headed and that spoke volumes to me," Bruce said. "He's a true professional. He goes about everything the right way. That's most important, and that's what he'll leave with me. I'm really appreciative of the information he gave me. I will take it and try to use it. If anyone knows, he knows." Having joined the club before the 2000 season, Griffey was the longest tenured Red and hit 210 of his 608 career home runs with Cincinnati. The 38-year-old was off to a slow start this season and batted .245 with 15 homers and 53 RBIs. But he ended his run with the Reds riding a 12-game hitting streak and hit a three-run homer in his final game against Houston. "He wasn't having his best year, but he was just getting hot," Bruce said. "You won't be able to fill those shoes. No one is Ken Griffey Jr. It's the end of an era in Cincinnati. He got hurt a lot, but was one of the top five best to ever step on the field."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.