Ken Griffey Jr. hits 600th home run
Cincinnati Reds outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. hit the 600th home run of his major-league career during the first inning of Monday's 9-4 victory over the Florida Marlins.
Griffey, 38, clobbered a 3-1 pitch from Marlins starter Mark Hendrickson into the right-field seats for the milestone homer, a two-run jolt that scored Jerry Hairston Jr. ahead of him.
"I don't think I touched any of the bases," Griffey said. "I sort of floated around."
"I grew up watching him," Hendrickson said. "I know what he did for baseball in Seattle.
"It is just one of those things where I'm going to pitch to these guys and don't back down from it. You're going to give up home runs."
Griffey received a standing ovation from the sparse crowd of 16,003 at Dolphin Stadium, and showed his appreciation by stepping out of the dugout and tipping his helmet.
"I'm really happy to be here and see it and I'm proud to be his teammate and to get to enjoy it," said Reds catcher Paul Bako, who homered twice in the win.
Griffey is the sixth slugger to reach the 600-homer mark, joining Barry Bonds (762), Henry Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714), Willie Mays (660) and Sammy Sosa (609).
"It is awesome every time you see a milestone like that," said Reds skipper Dusty Baker, who has managed Bonds, Sosa and Griffey.
"It doesn't take away from the others. It adds to it."
It was Griffey's first homer since May 31.
"I have been swinging the bat a lot better the last 10 days or so," he said. "I was able to get the ball in the air.
"I wasn't beating the ball into the ground like I had been."
Hairston out 2-4 weeks
Hairston, meantime, will be grounded two to four weeks with a fractured thumb suffered as he stole second base prior to Griffey's blast.
"Hopefully, it is two weeks," he said. "I really feel comfortable getting a chance to play every day and leading off."
Griffey is averaging .260 this season with seven homers, 29 runs batted in and 30 runs scored in 61 games.
The 13-time all-star is a lifetime .289 hitter with 600 HRs, 1,730 RBIs and 1,575 runs in 2,439 games over 20 MLB seasons with the Seattle Mariners and Reds.
He has won 10 Gold Glove Awards for fielding excellence.
"My father hit 152 home runs and that was who I wanted to be like," Griffey said.
Griffey broke into the majors at the age of 19 on April 4, 1989, and, six days later, became the youngest player to homer, cranking the first pitch he saw at Seattle's Kingdome into the seats.
Chicago White Sox starter Eric King served up the historic homer.
Griffey spent 11 seasons in Seattle, which traded him to Cincinnati for Brett Tomko, Mike Cameron, Antonio Perez and Jake Meyer on Feb. 10, 2000.
He is in the final season of a nine-year, $116.5-million US contract.
With files from the Associated Press