07/31/08 10:33 PM ET
Swisher to give up number for Griffey
White Sox excited to add future Hall of Famer to their club
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
With the arrival of Ken Griffey Jr. from Cincinnati in a somewhat stunning trade finalized hours before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, Swisher offered to give up his jersey No. 30 to the future Hall of Famer and take the No. 1 instead.
That gracious act was just one of the ways a surprised but excited group of White Sox players began to welcome Griffey, who will meet up with his teammates and a throng of Chicago media Friday in Kansas City. White Sox bench Joey Cora, who played with Griffey in Seattle from 1995-98, joked that Griffey was the best in the game when they last were teammates. But that was a decade ago.
Cora also believes Griffey will benefit from taking part in meaningful games during the season's stretch drive.
"He's still playing, and it seems like he's still playing at a very high level," Cora said. "He's going to have a little bit of a jolt to play these two months for us in a pennant race. He hasn't played in one in how long?
"The first time he went to Cincinnati he played in one, but after that, he hasn't played in a meaningful August or September. I'm pretty sure he's pretty excited about that, and coming back to the American League and playing in meaningful games at this stage of his career, he should be excited."
In talking about Griffey's arrival, a number of White Sox players pointed to bringing in a player with Griffey's Hall of Fame pedigree. Jermaine Dye said he spoke to Griffey on Thursday morning and relayed the message that he was happy with the trade and would be ready to go Friday.
Griffey also wants to win. The addition of an extra bat, albeit still a strong one, seemed to fly in the face of a team that espoused a championship philosophy of winning through pitching and defense. But the offensive struggles from Swisher and Paul Konerko seemed to force the hand of general manager Ken Williams.
This trade had the same feel of a team who drafts the best player available, regardless of need.
"I think it's the quality of the person and what he brings," said Dye of Griffey, who has hit safely in his past 12 games with the Reds. "He's been playing well. Hopefully, he'll come in and be the veteran that he is and push some guys to get over the hump and also motivate us and get us to where we need to be."
"Everyone in 2005 thought the Geoff Blum trade was the wrong trade and it worked out," added White sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who knows Griffey from their offseason homes in Orlando, Fla. "Hopefully, this one will work out as well as that one did. This is the one [Williams] thought was right."
Changes will come for Swisher and Konerko in regard to playing time. But Swisher already went through his first adjustment on Thursday, now leading a group known as "The Dirty One."
"As a whole, we are very excited to have him over here," Swisher said.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.