Notes: Griffey gives long overdue gift
Slugger sends home run bat to former teammate Jones
PHILADELPHIA -- Former Red Todd Jones' long-forgotten request was no match for Ken Griffey Jr.'s good memory.Jones, now the closer for the Tigers, had a brief stint with Cincinnati in early 2004. One day that season, the reliever asked Griffey for one of his home run bats, but added a caveat: He wanted a new one that was used for just a one-swing homer. After he was traded to the Phillies later that summer, Jones and Griffey never spoke of the favor again. On Monday, Jones had a package waiting for him in the Detroit clubhouse. It was a bat autographed by Griffey with "No. 577" written on the barrel, where the Reds' right fielder had hit the ball for his June 8 homer against the Indians' Cliff Lee. The bat Griffey used for career homer No. 577 was a brand-new model and the long ball came on the first pitch from Lee. "Three years later, he remembered it and he sent it to me," Jones said. "That was the coolest thing I think I've ever had happen to me." Better late than never. "Of all the requests that I get, that one kind of stuck out," Griffey said. "It was the first time that I went up there with a [new] bat and hit a home run. The toughest part was should I use it again? Usually, I may foul off a couple and then hit one. This one wasn't fouled off. One swing." Griffey hit career homers No. 583 and 584 on Sunday at Seattle to pass Mark McGwire for seventh on the all-time list. All memorabilia from Griffey, who is a future Hall of Famer and closing in on 600 career home runs, will be both coveted and valuable. Now, Jones has something to display that's truly one of a kind. "I had an opportunity to do that," Griffey said of the gesture. "He's always been real good to me and my family." Another setback: Closer Eddie Guardado was scheduled to throw to hitters in batting practice on Tuesday, but the session was scrubbed because of left forearm soreness. "I just got a little tightness," Guardado said. "They told me not to throw today and we'll see how I feel [Wednesday]. It's all muscle, which is good. It feels pretty good right now." Guardado hoped to throw a session in the bullpen on Wednesday and may face hitters again when the club returns to Cincinnati on Friday. It was the second of two setbacks in the past week Guardado has endured during the rehabilitation from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery on his elbow. Last week, it was a stiff back that halted the lefty's rehab assignment in the Minors. Being an arm issue this time, Guardado was more nervous. "[Dr. Tim Kremchek] said before when I first started doing this thing, you're going to feel great but you'll run into some bumps," Guardado said. "This is just one of them. He said, 'Do all the forearm work and shoulder work, time is going to heal it.' He's right. You get so close, and feel so good one day, and the next day, it's 'gosh dang.'" Rotation flip-flop: During Monday's off-day, Reds manager Jerry Narron decided to switch his rotation a little for the Phillies series. Instead of pitching Thursday, ace Aaron Harang is scheduled on Wednesday, to stay on his usual four days' rest. Matt Belisle was moved back to Thursday. The reasoning was simple. "He's our best pitcher," said Narron. This setup gives Harang three more starts before the All-Star break, instead of two. He is 3-0 with a 1.85 ERA over his last six starts. Freel update: On his rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville, Ryan Freel (concussion) was 2-for-10 with two RBIs and a stolen base. Freel made both starts as the designated hitter, but he was expected to play the outfield on Tuesday. Seattle buzz: Griffey was still on cloud nine over the reception he received last weekend for his first return to Seattle since leaving the Mariners. He was asked where the crowd reaction ranked among his career moments. "The three days? That was No. 1," said Griffey. "Have you ever seen anything like that?" It could have been much different. Narron remembered Alex Rodriguez's first visit to Seattle with the Rangers. "The worst I've ever seen a player treated was A-Rod in Seattle his first time back," Narron said. "Every ball he hit out during batting practice, they threw back. Every foul ball he hit during the game, they threw back." It was obvious Griffey never played in Philadelphia, known for its less-than-friendly reception to visiting players. During his first at-bat Tuesday, a fan was heard shouting, "Griffey, you're a bum!" Coming up: Harang (8-2, 3.59 ERA) will pitch in Wednesday's 7:05 p.m. ET against the Phillies and Jamie Moyer (7-5, 4.13 ERA).
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.