Giants laud ex-teammate Griffey

Giants laud ex-teammate Griffey

DENVER -- Ken Griffey Jr.'s 600th career home run traveled as far as Coors Field, where a trio of Giants and former teammates shared the joy of the slugger's milestone.

"I feel so happy for him," said shortstop Omar Vizquel, who made his Major League debut alongside Griffey on April 3, 1989, for the Seattle Mariners. "For all the time that he has been on the disabled list, that's amazing. He should have 700 home runs by now."

"It's not like he needed to solidify his place in baseball history," said infielder Rich Aurilia, who played with Griffey in Cincinnati from 2005-06. "But I guess he solidified it a little bit more."

Fans far and wide are well-acquainted with Griffey's skills.

"You could see right away that he was going to be great," Vizquel said Tuesday. "There was no doubt in anybody's mind."

"When I first came into the league [in 1998], he was hands down the best player in the American League and the best player I'd ever seen," said right fielder Randy Winn, who represented the United States along with Griffey in the 2006 World Baseball Classic. "Defensively -- going to get balls, his arm -- and offensively, just amazing. Amazing."

What most people don't know is that the effervescent personality Griffey became famous for earlier in his career remains intact, at least in the privacy of the clubhouse.

"His smile, his attitude, his actions -- that's really him," Winn said. "He was like that every day. He was just like a big kid. That was fun to see and fun to be around. And it was an honor to play with him."

Said Aurilia, "He really doesn't treat one person better than anybody else. He treats everybody the same. I don't think you'll find one guy who's played with him that'll say they didn't like him or [he] wasn't a great teammate. He's a boisterous guy who's fun to be around. Getting to know him was one of the things I'll always take from playing for the Reds."

Chris Haft is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.