For anyone wondering what Ken Griffey Jr. returning to the Seattle Mariners will mean to the Mariners, consider this.
In the clubhouse at 7 a.m., where dozens of players were preparing for early conditioning work, there was quite literally a buzz – excited conversations, most of them about Griffey.
What Junior can bring to this team on the field, with his bat and yes, occasionally his glove, remains go be seen. What he brings a team with only one high-profile player is, well, a second high-profile player. And one who teammates in Seattle, Cincinnati and Chicago agree can keep a clubhouse loose, single-handed.
Griffey has always played the game with passion and a childlike sense of fun. His joy on the field is obvious, and he's a carrier.
One of the players who figures to benefit most from Junior's return? Ichiro Suzuki.
The two men bonded when Ichiro first visited Mariners camp years before coming to Seattle. Their relationship remained close, and Ichiro seemed to light up whenever the two crossed paths.
Griffey in a clubhouse means a little less daily focus on Ichiro – something Ichiro would treasure – and a lot more smiles. No one is certain what Griffey can do at the plate in 2009, but bet this: Ichiro will be a happier player, and that might kick his game up a notch.
There are those who don't buy what happens in a clubhouse impacts a team on the field, in part because it cannot be measured.
If signing Griffey can get a bunch of players waiting to run pumped up at 7 a.m., that's a factor this team has lacked for years.
Imagine what it might be like when he shows up.