Ken Griffey Jr. is expected to miss three months of the season after suffering a fractured left wrist while making a spectacular catch in the seventh inning of the Seattle Mariners' game last night against Baltimore.
Griffey, the Mariners' All-Star center fielder, was rushed to Providence Medical Center, where X-rays showed a fracture of his left distal radius bone. He was expected to have surgery, possibly as early as today, to insert a plate into his left wrist.
Griffey, 25, suffered the injury while making a leaping catch of a deep drive by Kevin Bass, using his right foot to cushion his collision with the outfield wall, then falling down on the warning track.
After getting up, Griffey immediately walked toward the dugout under his own power, though noticeably grimacing. Seattle trainers met him halfway to the dugout, and assisted him off the field.
Griffey, snapping out of his slump, had homered earlier in the game. The Mariners won 8-3.
The injury is a devastating blow to the Mariners hopes of contending for their first American League West championship.
The game began as a pitchers' duel. You would expect a Randy Johnson-Ben McDonald matchup to be a duel and this one was for a while.
Although both sides had their chances to break through, it was only 1-0 Seattle until the two-homer fifth. Griffey and Tino Martinez made it 4-0.
In the first, both clubs put two runners on with one out.
In the top of the inning, Brady Anderson led off the game with a hard single to right field, and one out later, Cal Ripken marked his 2,035th straight start with a slow roller to third for a hit. But Johnson came back with a pair of crucial strikeouts, fanning both Chris Hoiles, who was struggling at .183, and Jeff Manto.
In the bottom half, Luis Sojo and Griffey each singled with one out, but McDonald got Jay Buhner to foul out and struck out Edgar Martinez looking.
Johnson's next test came in the fourth when Manto doubled with one out, but again Johnson had the pitchers' best friend on his side, the strikeout. He froze Rafael Palmeiro, only in the lineup because Jeffrey Hammonds' plane was late into Sea-Tac Airport, with a slider. Then he blew Leo Gomez away on fastballs.
Seattle missed a chance at a run in the second when Alex Diaz reached base on an infield hit, then made third when McDonald threw away a pickoff attempt. Dan Wilson walked, but Darren Bragg bunted too hard on a safety squeeze that proved unsafe and Diaz was an easy out at the plate.
The first run for the Mariners came in the next inning. Griffey walked with one out, and Buhner pounded a ball that bounced over the wall in right field for a ground-rule double and his team-leading 24th run batted in. It was Buhner's 16th RBI in 14 games since son Gunnar was born.
Griffey led off the fifth with his seventh homer, a ball that zinged off the foul pole in right as Griffey clapped for himself hitting a ball hard for the first time in 10 games.
After Buhner walked, Tino Martinez hit a rare opposite-field homer, his fifth overall, to make it 4-0.
After getting runs support and after throwing only six pitches in the previous inning (to reach 76 for the game), Johnson weakened in the sixth.
Kevin Bass led off with a double to left, and Ripken got his second infield hit. Then Hoiles, after a superb five-foul-ball battle, hammered a three-run shot to left, his fifth homer.
Johnson dug down, although he first walked Manto. He fanned Palmeiro for a third time. Gomez singled to put two on and Bret Barberie grounded out, but moved the runners into scoring postion.