Ken Griffey Jr. Retiring at Age 40

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    PEORIA, AZ - MARCH 08: Ken Griffey Jr. #24 of the Seattle Mariners looks on before a Spring Training game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Peoria Stadium on March 8, 2009 in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Ken Griffey Jr.

    Ken Griffey Jr. retired Wednesday night, ending one of the great careers in baseball history.

    The 40-year-old Griffey told the Mariners that he was done playing, and manager Don Wakamatsu made the announcement before Seattle faced Minnesota.

    "While I feel I am still able to make a contribution on the field and nobody in the Mariners front office has asked me to retire, I told the Mariners when I met with them prior to the 2009 season and was invited back that I will never allow myself to become a distraction," Griffey said in a statement.

    "I feel that without enough occasional starts to be sharper coming off the bench, my continued presence as a player would be an unfair distraction to my teammates and their success as a team is what the ultimate goal should be," he said.

    Griffey was hitting only .184 with no homers and seven RBIs this year and recently went a week without playing. There was a report earlier this season — which Griffey denied — that he'd fallen asleep in the clubhouse during a game.

    Griffey was a perennial All-Star outfielder and ranks fifth on the career home run list with 630. He won an MVP award and was a Gold Glover. The only thing missing on his resume was a trip to the World Series.

    A star from the get-go, he played 22 years in the majors with Seattle, his hometown Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago White Sox. He hit .284 lifetime with 1,836 RBIs.

    For a time in the 1990s, he was considered the best player in baseball. But then injuries began to take their toll and his production started to decline.