BY JOHN FAY |ENQUIRER
Reds center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. decided to talk to the media again Wednesday - largely to explain why he didn't talk to reporters Monday and Tuesday.
Griffey said he's angry over suggestions made by sports-talk radio show callers that he should move from center field to left field or first base.
"If I was hurting the team, (I'd move)," he said.
Griffey singled out the "Two Angry Guys" - Tom Gamble and Richard Skinner - who can be heard weekday mornings on WCKY-AM (1360).
"For somebody who can't play this (expletive) game to sit there and criticize me ..." he said.
"What you guys fail to realize is what you guys write doesn't just stay in the clubhouse," Griffey continued. "I have to live with it. I have to go places. I have to go to the grocery store.
"The only thing I can do is hold my head high and keep walking."
Gamble said he is shocked at the uproar.
"I am," he said. "We've been Ken Griffey Jr. proponents. I'm stunned because we never made the statement that he is incapable of playing center field.
"Our whole thing is it's in the best interest of the Reds to have Ken Griffey Jr. in the lineup.
"In our estimation - based on the last few years - is you get more wear and tear from center field than anywhere else."
Griffey skipped postgame media sessions Monday and Tuesday after terrific games against Milwaukee.
Griffey hit a three-run homer in each game.
He also made two very good catches on Monday and a sensational catch on Tuesday.
But he failed to reach two balls Saturday night in Detroit's big outfield. That game was his eighth after returning from the disabled list, where he spent nearly a month with strained tendon in his knee.
"All I want to do is go out and play baseball," Griffey said. "To be judged after eight games is horse (manure).
"It's easy for people to criticize somebody and not be out in the outfield," Griffey said. "He should have caught that ball ... Like I'm not trying.
"I'm tired of it. That's all."
Griffey is particularly angry about talk that he needs to move to first base or left field.
Adam Dunn, another favorite sports-talk whipping boy, said he's surprised Griffey let the critics bother him.
"Why does he care?" Dunn said. "I haven't listened one time."
Griffey said he doesn't listen to sports talk, either, but what is said gets back to him.
"I grew up here," he said. "I have friends here ... I hear it from them."
Griffey's relationship with media members who cover the team has been excellent the last two years.
The local chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America gave him the Joe Nuxhall Good Guy award for the 2005 season, and named him the team's most valuable player.
But Griffey's relationship with the media during his first two years in Cincinnati was, at times, contentious.
Some complaints he had then resurfaced Wednesday.
"You have no idea what I've gone through," Griffey said. "How many surgeries have I had since I've been here? Let's start off with the obvious: ankle, knee, hamstring, shoulder. How many follow-up surgeries?
"Nobody knows what I go through day in, day out."
For radio talkers to question his effort after that thoroughly ticks him off.
"If I can get to it (in the outfield), I'll get to it," he said. "If I have to run through a wall, I will ... I play baseball at one speed. That's the only way I know how to play.
"Anybody who thinks I go out and (give half effort is crazy)," he said. "I've got 24 other guys in this locker room to deal with."