Ken Griffey Jr. has won 10 Gold Gloves, is a 13-time All-Star and has 608 career home runs, but he’s never played in a World Series game and hasn’t been on a playoff team since 1997.
A move to the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox gives him a chance at ending both droughts.
Griffey is expected to make his first start with the White Sox on Friday, when his new team opens a three-game series with the Kansas City Royals.
Chicago (60-47) acquired the future Hall of Famer from the Cincinnati Reds before Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline, for minor leaguer Danny Richar and reliever Nick Masset. The 38-year-old’s career has been marred by injuries in recent years, and he’s struggled at the plate this season. White Sox general manager Kenny Williams said, however, that he’s counting on Griffey to show a renewed drive.
“One of the things that factored into this was a guy who has had a great career but has not won a championship and how motivated he’s going to be to get on that stage,” Williams said. “That is a factor and will always be a factor for me.”
Griffey batted .245 with 15 homers and 53 RBIs in 102 games with the Reds. He is one home run behind Sammy Sosa for fifth place on the all-time list, but has batted above .300 in just one season since 1998.
“When I talked to Junior, he was very honest,” Williams said. “He said, ‘Well, I’ve got to tell you, I don’t know that you’re going to see the guy from Seattle.’ I said, ‘We’re not looking for that guy from Seattle. What we’re looking for is for you to use your instincts.’”
Griffey played right field the last two seasons but the White Sox are expected to move him back to center - his original position. Nick Swisher would then move to first base, taking over for the slumping Paul Konerko.
The White Sox have dropped 10 of their last 17 games, including three of four at Minnesota this week to trim their AL Central lead to one-half game. They lost Thursday’s series finale 10-6 despite homers from Jim Thome and Jermaine Dye.
The Royals (50-59), meanwhile, have won four straight and are coming off a three-game sweep at Oakland. Kansas City completed the sweep - its first at Oakland since 1988 - with a 10-inning, 4-3 win. Jose Guillen drove in the deciding run with a sacrifice fly.
“It’s nice to be on the positive end of some history,” Royals manager Trey Hillman said.
Hillman will send Luke Hochevar (6-8, 5.38 ERA) to the mound in search of a fifth consecutive win for Kansas City. The right-hander did not earn a decision in Saturday’s 5-3 loss to Tampa Bay, as he allowed two runs over five innings.
Hochevar also didn’t factor in the decision at Chicago on June 4, when he gave up four runs over 5 2-3 innings of a game the Royals lost 6-4 in 15 innings.
Javier Vazquez (7-9, 4.73 ERA) takes the ball for Chicago on Friday looking for his first win since June 17. The right-hander is 0-4 with a 6.23 ERA over his last six starts. He pitched seven innings of Sunday’s 6-4 loss at Detroit, allowing six runs and 11 hits.
Vazquez is 6-2 with a 3.25 ERA in 11 career starts against the Royals.