Ken Griffey, Jr. inducted into Mariners Hall of Fame

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Outfielder Ken Griffey, Jr. was inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame at Safeco Field this evening, an event which preceded the team’s game against the Brewers. Griffey, often known as “Junior”, spent 13 of his 22 years in the Majors with the Mariners, hitting 417 of his 630 career home runs and helping usher in an era of prosperity, something not previously seen by the Mariners franchise dating back to 1977.

Griffey had a number of unforgettable moments in his career, from milestone home runs to great catches, but perhaps none more memorable than when he scored the winning run in the 11th inning of Game 5 of the 1995 American League Division Series against the Yankees. Though the Mariners were knocked out of the playoffs in the ALCS against the Indians, the Mariners would reach the post-season again in 1997, when they lost the ALDS in four games to the Orioles.

As Griffey approached free agency, the Mariners made a very tough decision and opted to trade him to the Reds in February 2000. The trade brought in their center fielder of the future in Mike Cameron, who helped the Mariners set a Major League record with 116 wins in 2001. Cameron, however, could never fill the rather large shoes vacated by Griffey.

Had injuries not interfered with his career, Griffey almost certainly would have joined the 700 home run club along with Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, and Babe Ruth. Nevertheless, he retired as one of the best players not only of his generation but of all-time.

Congratulations to Junior for his induction into the Mariners Hall of Fame.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.