Griffey returning for another season in Seattle

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Ken Griffey Jr.’s return to Seattle was a success in so much as Mariners fans seemed to enjoy having him back and the team made major strides following a horrible 2008, but his actual performance was awful.
Griffey showed that he still has plenty of power and patience with 19 homers and 63 walks in 454 plate appearances, but he batted just .214/.324/.411 for a career-worst .735 OPS and was almost exclusively limited to designated hitter duties.
When he started dropping hints about wanting to return for a 22nd season at the age of 40 it seemed obvious that the Mariners wouldn’t–or at least shouldn’t–be interested in a second go-around. While the reunion was nice in a rebuilding season, the team seemingly has bigger plans for 2010 that should involve an upgrade at DH.
All of which is why this report from Larry Stone of the Seattle Times is surprising: Griffey and the Mariners have agreed to a one-year deal for 2010. Certainly getting sub par production from a part-time designated hitter is far from disastrous and won’t make or break the team in 2010, but it looks like nostalgia, loyalty, and perhaps some extra ticket sales will keep the Mariners from what would be a pretty easy upgrade.
Of course, that’s easier said than done with an incredibly popular future first-ballot Hall of Famer, but this isn’t exactly a Brett Favre and the Packers situation. Griffey has hit just .234/.340/.418 in 1,029 plate appearances spread over the past two seasons, is no longer capable of playing the outfield regularly, and the Mariners’ lineup needs all the help it can get after ranking dead last in scoring this year.

John Lackey stole the first base of his career

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Cubs starter John Lackey stole the first base of his 15-year career on Wednesday against the Reds. Of course, he spent the first 11 and a half years of his career in the American League, where opportunities to bat, let alone attempt to steal a base, were rare. Lackey entered Wednesday having taken 250 plate appearances, reaching base just 31 times on 17 singles, seven doubles, and seven walks for a .134 on-base percentage. One can imagine the 38-year-old is not exactly the swiftest base runner.

Still, Lackey managed to swipe a bag in the fourth inning. He singled with two outs against Homer Bailey. Then, with an 0-1 count on Ben Zobrist, Lackey broke for second even before Bailey began his windup. Tucker Barnhart stood up to alert Bailey that Lackey was running, so Bailey wheeled around and threw to second base, but Lackey slid into the bag easily safe. It wasn’t a pretty slide, but it did the job.

Lackey, however, was picked off of second base by Barnhart later that inning. Bailey threw a 3-2 fastball wide of the strike zone, walking Zobrist. Lackey had wandered too far off of second base, so Barnhart threw behind Lackey and the tag was applied by Zack Cozart. Lackey was called safe initially. The play was reviewed and the ruling on the field was overturned, ending the fourth inning.

Base Ba’al giveth and Base Ba’al taketh away.

Video: Aaron Judge sends a baseball into the upper deck at Citi Field

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge hit another jaw-dropping home run, victimizing Mets starter Robert Gsellman in the top of the fourth game of Wednesday night’s game at Citi Field. Left fielder Yoenis Cespedes didn’t even move. The ball traveled 457 feet and was hit 117 MPH off the bat, according to Katie Sharp of River Ave Blues.

The home run moved Judge’s AL-best total to 37, putting him two ahead of the Royals’ Mike Moustakas. Along with the prodigious dinger total, he has 80 RBI, 90 runs scored, and a .291/.421/.616 triple-slash line in 499 plate appearances. Judge is on pace for 50 dingers. If it holds, that would give him the rookie record for home runs in a season. Mark McGwire currently holds the record, having hit 49 for the Athletics in 1987.