His parents' health issues are weighing on Griffey

NL Notebook


The Cincinnati Reds are in prime position to get to the playoffs for the first time since 1995, when Davey Johnson was managing.

But the Reds' most heralded player -- once widely considered the best in the game -- is having his most challenging season of a splendid career.

Ken Griffey hit his 25th homer of the year Thursday, the 10th time he's hit 25 or more in a season since 1992. But he's batting about 50 points lower than his career average and about 70 points below his career on-base percentage.

Yet what's made 2006 so troubling for Griffey is what's going on off the field. His 25th homer came on the same day in which his mother was undergoing an operation.

In less than a week, Griffey learned that his father, Ken Sr., has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and his mother, Birdie, has colon cancer.

"Not one parent but both your parents," he said. "It's been tough."

Griffey's parents, who are divorced, both are being treated in Orlando, Fla. On Monday's day off, Griffey flew there with his father and then visited his mother. Manager Jerry Narron offered Griffey a second day off Tuesday, but the center fielder declined, choosing to be with the Reds in the pennant race.

Griffey, who has remained upbeat in front of his teammates, said he wouldn't use the personal problems as an excuse for his offensive struggles.

"People are going to assume what they want to assume. I can't control what people say," Griffey said. "I go out there and try to do the best job I can. I've got a responsibility to the guys in this locker room. We deal with it the best we can."

Streaky Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers' incredible 17-1 stretch from July 28 to Aug. 15 was the best run in franchise history since the Wee Willie Keeler-led Brooklyn Superbas went 20-1 in 1899 on their way to a National League pennant.

The last NL team to go 17-1 was the 1986 New York Mets, who won the World Series. In 20 days, the Dodgers gained 11 games in the NL West. Perhaps most impressive -- or inexplicable, anyway -- is that the Dodgers started the streak after beginning the season's second half losers of 13 of 14.

"It makes for a lot of good reading and good conversation," Dodgers first-year manager Grady Little said.

Charities swell

This one's from the "hGH may not be bad after all" department. Former Oriole Jason Grimsley and the Arizona Diamondbacks recently settled their dispute over Grimsley's outstanding salary that the club had been withholding after the now-retired reliever was released in June after he admitted to federal officials that he used illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

What was left of his $825,000 salary was given to four different charities: roughly $112,700 each to the club's D-Backs Foundation and to Drug-Free Arizona and $153,275 each to country singer Garth Brooks' Teammates for Kids Foundation and Grimsley's church in Leawood, Kan.

Quick hits

Amazingly, Florida ace Dontrelle Willis is the only Marlins pitcher to have lost at least 10 games so far this season. ... Think the Houston Astros could use Miguel Tejada's bat? In a recent 36-inning period, the Astros scored in just two of the innings and stranded 36 base runners.

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