Ken Griffey Jr. has returned to his roots after signing a contract with the Seattle Mariners.
The future Hall of Fame slugger brings 611 career homers to Seattle, where he broke into the majors in 1989. Griffey, who belted 56 homers in 1997 and again in 1998 for the Mariners, is fifth on the all-time home run list.
Griffey, who began last season with the Cincinnati Reds and played the second half with the Chicago White Sox, signed a one-year deal with the Mariners. He had narrowed his choices down to the Mariners and Atlanta Braves.
"I have known Kenny since he was a little kid," said veteran Braves manager Bobby Cox. "I saw him in high school (in Cincinnati). And we had no chance of getting him. I just wanted to see what the best player in the nation looks like. And he was the best player in the nation. He looked like it. The reports I have gotten now are that he is pretty darn healthy.”
Asked if Griffey appeared to be a better big league prospect in high school than current Braves star Chipper Jones, Cox smiled and said: "Well, maybe they were 1 and 1-A."
Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik was ecstatic that the 39-year-old Griffey picked Seattle.
"He's coming home!" he said.