The biggest clue to the true condition of Reds slugger Ken Griffey Jr. is that 36-ounce bat he constantly carries, swinging it whenever he has the chance to help restore the strength to his broken left hand. Obviously, he's less than 100 percent.
Griffey, 37 -- whom knowlegeable observers believe has no intention of giving up his center field job to move to right -- has had a soft cast removed for more than four weeks and has been taking batting practice. But he still has not participated in defensive play, and though he has yet to fully recover from the injury he sustained on his boat in December, the break has healed and he has been cleared for game action.
Griffey seems to be swinging normally in the batting cage, but trainer Matt Krause has been shadowing him to see what happens when he throws. Any shortcomings in Griffey's ability to hit homeplate on the fly will cause additional pressure for him to step aside for Ryan Freel in center. Griffey believes he still represents the team's strongest defensive option in center, hence his determination to stay there.