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Finally, an injury-free Griffey can skip offseason rehab

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer
Published September 25, 2005

For the first time in five years, Ken Griffey Jr. will be able to work on strength and conditioning in the offseason instead of rehabbing an injury. The only thing is that the plan required the Reds centerfielder to undergo two apparently minor procedures.

The Dayton Daily News reported Griffey on Monday will have arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and surgery on his right buttocks to close a scar from last year's hamstring surgery that seeps.

The decision to shut Griffey down came after he strained his right foot Sept. 5, an injury not officially revealed until last week.

"He should be finished with rehab by the end of October," Reds trainer Mark Mann told the Daily News. "With rest, in a couple of weeks, his foot should be fine. The rehab on his knee should take three weeks.

"He wanted to play but he was having soreness in his foot and we didn't want to take any chances. It made more sense to get the surgeries and then, for once, be able to work out in the offseason instead of rehab."

Griffey, 35, played 128 games and hit .301 with 35 home runs and 92 RBIs after a rare surgery during which a hamstring was reattached to the bone with three screws. He should be a prime candidate for NL comeback player of the year.

"Just to be able to go out there day in and day out when a lot of people counted me out meant a lot and said a lot for the work I put into it and the medical staff's hard work," he said. "I'll take a little more pride in this season because I came back from an injury nobody has come back from."

Griffey said the knee has bothered him on and off for about three years.

"I'm looking forward to an offseason where I don't have to go to rehab three or four times a week for four months," he said. "I want to be the best player I can, get the most out of my body. I want this team to win as many games as it can."

A REAL WINNER: Randy Winn has been a godsend for the Giants since he arrived in a July 31 deal with the Mariners. The former Rays outfielder entered Saturday batting .333 with 11 home runs and 20 RBIs in 195 at-bats in 49 games.

Even Barry Bonds preferred to speak about Winn on Sept.18 rather than the ball he deposited in McCovey Cove.

"Winn has played phenomenal," Bonds told reporters. "I mean, just phenomenal. That goes to show you have to have a leadoff hitter. He's been the guy who's been putting pressure on."

Winn said he has noticed a difference between the leagues.

"I would say the National League is supposed to be more of a fastball league, but I don't think that's true," he said. "The pitchers in the National League are more aggressive. It seems like the starters are trying to keep their pitch counts low to stay in the ballgames. If they're going to throw an offspeed pitch early in the count, it's going to be a strike."

STRIKING QUICKLY: It took just 104 days for the Red Sox to draft pitcher Craig Hansen and get him into a major-league game. It happened Monday at the Trop and the 6-foot-5 right-hander with the 97 mph fastball and slider that has been compared to Robb Nen's was as advertised.

Hansen, from Glen Cove, N.Y., and out of St. John's University, threw 19 pitches in the fifth inning of Tampa Bay's 8-7 win, 13 for strikes and struck out Toby Hall and Julio Lugo in a perfect outing.

Hansen said he had thought about his debut for two days.

"I visualized my results," he said.

"He can throw," said Rays outfielder Damon Hollins. "He can be something special."

ET CETERA: Dodgers first baseman Hee-Seop Choi must have worn the bruise as a badge of honor after he was hit by a pitch from San Diego's Chan Ho Park. Choi used to cut school in his native South Korea to watch Park pitch. ... In anticipation of Hurricane Rita, the retractable roof on Houston's Minute Made Park was secured in a tie-down position built into the structure. The Houston Chronicle reported the roof was built to withstand 100 mph winds. ... It was believed first baseman Albert Pujols would take some time off to rest his sore right foot after the Cardinals clinched the NL Central. But he kept playing and aggravated a hamstring. "If I hurt myself, it's part of the game," Pujols told St. Louis' Post-Dispatch. "I get paid to play. I don't get paid to sit out." ... Philadelphia's Daily News reported that Phillies manager Charlie Manuel had a sitdown Wednesday with pitcher Cory Lidle after Lidle was shown on ESPN mugging while Philadelphia was being pounded by the Marlins. ... The San Francisco Chronicle reported the A's are considering giving Rickey Henderson a one-day contract so he can retire with the team he started with in 1979.

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