SEATTLE -- An ailment diagnosed as an "inflamed colon" knocked Ken Griffey Jr. out of the Mariners' lineup for Monday night's two-game series opener against the Rangers. Griffey explained before the game that he has experienced the same thing several times. "It just comes and goes when it wants. It feels like someone kicked you in the damn side," he said. "I would be more than happy to demonstrate it on you. Just sign this waiver I already have printed up."
He was laughing. Turning serious, the 39-year-old said his right side was sore Monday morning when he woke up, and he immediately realized what it was. "From past experiences, it just goes away after a while, usually in about a day," he said. "I know exactly what it is -- an inflamed colon -- and you can get it from things you eat to mood swings. It's just sore. It'll be all right." According to The Associated Press, Griffey was diagnosed with the ailment -- diverticulitis -- in 2006, when he played for the Reds. Manager Don Wakamatsu replaced Griffey on Monday night with Mike Sweeney. "It's something we think will be short-term and he could be in the lineup tomorrow," he said. Although feeling under the weather, Griffey perked up when asked about the unexpected success of the Mariners so far this season. They went into Monday night's game with a 15-10 record and 2 1/2-game lead over the Rangers in the American League West. The Mariners were 12-13 after 25 games last season, in third place, three games out of first and en route to a 4-16 stretch that knocked them for a big-time loop. Asked what he saw about this team, he said, "I see guys who want to play baseball. Everybody wants to do what they can to help this team win games. "From Day One of Spring Training, everybody wanted to put last year's situation behind us." Even new players, like himself? "Especially the guys that were not here last year," he said. "Last year was last year and we've moved on. It's a fresh start for a lot of people, and guys want to make the best of it." The in-game communication has been solid. "There is a lot of chit-chat during the game," Griffey said. "Even when a guy makes an out, he'll give you a pretty good idea of what the [pitcher] is throwing, instead of being upset at himself and giving you short answers. "There are some good conversations during the game." The clubhouse atmosphere is 180 degrees different from what it was a year ago. "No one is concerned about who's wearing what or why they're wearing it or why this guy is in this role or that role," Griffey said. "People aren't concerned about things they shouldn't be concerned about." The only statistic that really matters is the "W" in the standings. Griffey is an example of the "team-first" philosophy that Wakamatsu developed during Spring Training. The future Hall of Fame outfielder is batting .190 with two home runs and five RBIs and was not used during Sunday afternoon's 15-inning victory over the Athletics at Safeco Field. "I was participating," he said. "I had my pom-poms. I gave my share of high-fives and I was ready if Don wanted to put me in. [Endy Chavez] had the day off and he pinch-ran. I thought Don was going to use me in that situation, but he let the little man go first." Griffey also said he was ready to pitch, if necessary. "I might have been able to go six," he said. Six pitches? "Yes."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.