Ken Griffey Jr. insisted Tuesday he was available to pinch hit during a recent Seattle Mariners game, in spite of a report that he was taking a nap. Quoting two Mariners who spoke anonymously, The (Tacoma) News Tribune wrote that Griffey was asleep in the clubhouse during Saturday's game against the Los Angeles Angels, leaving manager Don Wakamatsu scrambling to get someone else to hit.
"I'm available all the time," Griffey said. "There are some issues that are not true in that situation.
"I can't win this and I'm not trying to. There are some things that are not accurate. I'll leave it at that."
Wakamatsu backed up Griffey's assertion.
"He wasn't asleep. He was available to pinch hit and I chose not to use him as the manager," Wakamatsu said, adding that Griffey was in the dugout at the time.
Griffey was vague in his denial.
Asked if he asleep during the game, Griffey waited and stared for several seconds after hearing the question. He then said, "Anything else you want to ask?"
He seemed more interested in finding out which of his teammates said he was sleeping on the job.
"I'm just hoping that whoever said it will be man enough to come to me," Griffey said.
Wakamatsu put the 40-year-old Griffey in the starting lineup Tuesday night against the Baltimore Orioles. The manager labeled the issue "a distraction," and was more intent on getting his last-place club ready to make a move in the AL West.
"What we're focusing on right now is that we won a game on Sunday and ended an eight-game losing streak that nobody's proud of," he said. "There have been ample things written and discussed on this. Again, my point is that he was available, I was the manager and chose not to pinch-hit him at that point."
The 40-year-old Griffey was batting .208 with no homers and five RBIs through Monday.
"It's disappointing for everybody. It's not just me," he said. "We're not in the position we thought we'd be at in the beginning. It's not just one player. It's everybody in this locker room."