Griffey agrees to play

Ken Griffey Jr. Milestones & Memories
After more consideration, Cincinnati Reds center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. agreed to participate in the inaugural World Baseball Classic next spring if he is selected by Team USA.

The 36-year-old Griffey originally did not decide if he will play or not, said yes to U.S. Team. He batted .301 with 35 HRs and 92 RBIs in 2005, which earned him National League Comeback Player of the Year honors.

Griffey’s father, Ken Griffey Sr., former major leaguer and special consultant of general manager Dan O’Brien, will be the first-base coach for U.S. team. “First of all, it is good competition because of all the countries involved in something like that,” Griffey Sr. said. “The other thing that intrigued me is it gets me back in uniform and out on the field.”

Other Cincinnati players include outfielder Adam Dunn (U.S.), shortstop Felipe Lopez (Puerto Rico), outfielder Wily Mo Pena (Dominican Republic) and catcher Javier Valentin (Puerto Rico) previously agreed to play in the 16-team international tournament.

The 26-year-old Dunn batted .247 with 40 home runs and 101 RBIs, his second straight 40-homer season. Lopez batted .291 with 23 homers and 85 RBIs, was a first-time All-Star in 2005. The 30-year-old Valentin batted .281 with 14 homers and 50 RBIs in 76 games as backup catcher. Pena batted .254 with 19 homers and 51 RBIs in 99 games in 2005.

“To be named on that list, it’s kind of recognition,” Dunn said. “It’s exciting.” “It’s one of those things where when it’s the first time of doing something, everyone is kind of anxious to see how it’s going to work out,” Dunn said. “I’m definitely interested in playing. I’m really not sure how it will work out. It definitely will be tougher for pitchers than position players.”

The World Baseball Classic will take place March 3-20. Sixty-man rosters must be submitted by Jan. 17, and the 30-man rosters must be finalized 24 hours before the start of the tournament.

If players were selected to play for their countries, they will leave the clubs during Spring Training. Since Cincinnati might lose three outfielders during most time in Sarasota camp, they need extra preparation.

“This is something new, something different,” Reds manager Jerry Narron said. “I don’t think anyone knows the perfect way of doing it.” “You don’t know how long a player will be involved in the tournament, depending on how far their individual team advances,” General Manager Dan O’Brien said. “We’re prepared for that.”

Reds plans to hold a Minor League mini-camp shortly before Spring Training to identify players who could fill in on the big-league club for exhibition games.

Junior available for Team USA
Griffey agrees to play in World Baseball Classic
Griffey says he’ll play in World Baseball Classic

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