Griffey breaks in U.S. Cellular Field
Veteran makes his first home start for White Sox on Tuesday
CHICAGO -- The first U.S. Cellular Field at-bat for Ken Griffey Jr. as a member of the White Sox ended in a swinging strikeout against Detroit starter Nate Robertson to finish off the second inning on Tuesday.
It wasn't exactly the desired highlight reel moment following the standing ovation Griffey received as he stepped into the batter's box. Much like his comments before his White Sox debut on Friday at Kauffman Stadium, Griffey admitted to once again being a little nervous prior to Tuesday's home debut.
"It's like the first day of school and trying to find your way around," said Griffey with a smile, as he spoke to a throng of media members in the U.S. Cellular Conference and Learning Center during Tuesday's pregame. "But I've been here before, just not on the other side. It will be a lot of fun. I'm going to enjoy it."
Griffey, 38, already has been through a whirlwind of activity in just one weekend with the team, since coming over from Cincinnati on Thursday for reliever Nick Masset and infielder Danny Richar. He had two hits and two RBIs during Friday's victory over the Royals, but then left Saturday's contest early with heat-related cramps.
On Sunday, Griffey watched the on-field fireworks as White Sox reliever D.J. Carrasco and manager Ozzie Guillen were ejected after Carrasco hit Miguel Olivo with a pitch. That ejection was followed by a two-game suspension handed down to Guillen on Tuesday.
So, does Griffey expect life with the White Sox to slow down at some point?
"No," said Griffey with a chuckle. "I played against Ozzie. I also had a fiery manager in Lou [Piniella], so I know what to expect. But these guys were in first place before I got here.
"They are a great bunch of guys. Usually, I'm the loud one before a game, but in no way, shape or form am I on this team."
Adding Griffey brings in a significant presence on offense for the White Sox, also giving Guillen a chance to sporadically rest players such as Jermaine Dye and Carlos Quentin, as examples. With one of those key players certain to be out of action on any given night or day, as Nick Swisher was on Tuesday, the White Sox bench automatically becomes stronger.
The superstar quality possessed by Griffey influences more than just the White Sox fan base, with a spike in ticket sales following his arrival. White Sox players are a bit awestruck around the outfielder with 608 career home runs, who has homered off 389 pitchers.
"I've caught myself staring at him, walking up and down the locker room," said White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle of Griffey. "Everyone can sit there and I say, 'I collected his baseball cards,' but I really did. I remember going to stores and getting a pack of cards and hoping that he was in there. It's shocking he's in our locker room, but he's quiet and takes care of business."
"I just start laughing," Griffey added. "I've played with or against three of the coaches here. They've been giving it to me a little bit about that. For the most part, it's just a little awkward when they say, 'Hey, I remember you when I was like 8 or 9.'"
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.