CINCINNATI -- Reds right fielder Ken Griffey Jr. wasn't fooling anyone when he tried to downplay home run No. 569 by implying the milestone was a result of age more than anything. But the 37-year-old does have a point. Of course, Griffey's unbelievable swing and patience at the plate had something to do with it, but it's also the experience that Griffey has taken from 19 productive seasons in the Major Leagues that helped him pass Rafael Palmeiro for sole possession of ninth on the all-time home run list.
"I'm just old. I started young," Griffey said after tying Palmeiro. "I haven't really thought about it. I've known Raffy for a long, long time. I played against him." Griffey has played against Palmeiro and many others for a long time. He's given fans 19 dazzling seasons, and hundreds of weeks of baseball to remember. Last week, he added yet another with three home runs and a National League-leading nine RBIs to earn National League Player of the Week honors on Monday. On Thursday, the lefty slugger tied Palmeiro when he knocked a 402-foot homer over the right-field wall in the Reds' 9-5 win over the Astros. Griffey then passed Palmeiro on Sunday with No. 570 in a loss to the Dodgers. He now sits three behind Harmon Killebrew for eighth place. Griffey's week to remember also included hitting .400 (10-for-25), posting a slugging percentage of .760 and recording a .484 on-base percentage. The numbers look nice, but the home run means more. "A home run is special. You get to jog," Griffey joked after tying Palmeiro. "The object is to take three left [turns], four lefts when you're at home." Griffey, who was recently moved back to the No. 3 spot, said recovering from a broken hand he suffered in December has actually helped him see pitches better and improve his patience at the plate. "Griff has been very patient all year," Reds manager Jerry Narron said after Thursday's game. "He's been our most disciplined hitter. He has our best on-base percentage (.436). I think a lot of guys could learn from that plate discipline and not just go up swinging at the first pitch they see sometimes." For winning, Griffey receives a Swiss Tourneau timepiece, which somehow seems an ironic reward for a player with such a timeless swing. Griffey was up against impressive competition, which included Reds teammates Adam Dunn (.381, 3 HR, 6 RBI) and Brandon Phillips (.355, 6 R). The list of nominees with impressive weeks was long and included Arizona's Brandon Webb (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 10 SO); Brad Penny (2-0, 0.68 ERA, 18 SO) and Randy Wolf (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 11 SO) of the Dodgers, and San Francisco's Fred Lewis, who hit for the cycle Sunday with his first home run (.500, 1 HR, 7 RBI).
Becky Regan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.