The Seattle Mariners have stepped up the pace in negotiations that could bring Ken Griffey Jr. back to the city where he spent the first 11 years of his major league career, two baseball sources told ESPN.com.
Although it's unclear whether the Mariners have extended a formal offer, two sources said the team made significant progress this week in talks to bring back Griffey. Several reports this winter have indicated that Griffey is seeking a one-year deal for a base salary in the $5 million range.
Any new sense of urgency the Mariners feel may be in reaction to the deals of Bobby Abreu (Angels) and Adam Dunn (Nationals) the past couple days. In the free-agent game of musical outfield positions, Griffey and Garrett Anderson are still standing.
As noted a few days ago, the Reds' team doctor is convinced that the 2009 model of Griffey will look more like the 2007 version (.277, 30 homers) than the 2008 one (.249, 18 homers). His prognosis is based on Griffey's recovery from the latest in the long string of leg problems that plagued The Kid after departing Seattle for Cincinnati.
Griffey is playing golf this week in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. So his knee must be feeling fine; you can't swing free in golf with a bum knee, any more than you can in baseball.