CINCINNATI -- Right fielder Ken Griffey Jr. heated up in May and often came up big. Griffey led Cincinnati with 10 home runs last month, which was second in the National League. He also batted .306 with 22 RBIs and 16 runs scored. The 37-year-old was named Pepsi's Major League Baseball "Clutch Player of the Month" on Friday. A new award this season, the "MLB Clutch Performer of the Month Presented by Pepsi" winner is selected by the fans from a list of six nominees chosen by a special editorial panel from Major League Baseball Advanced Media. During the first week of each month, fans can visit a microsite hosted by MLB.com that has been created specifically for the Clutch Performer Platform, pepsiclutch.mlb.com, to vote for the player they believe was the best Clutch Performer during the previous month.
Griffey's accelerated production happened to coincide with his return to the No. 3 spot in the Reds lineup near the start of the month. He had been batting fourth or fifth. "It's one of those things that happened," Griffey said last month. "It wasn't a comfort zone. It was being able to look at some things I was doing wrong and trying to correct them. I'm so technical on certain things that I could give you three different swings, and you guys might think they all look the same. I can tell you there are three different setups I have. My dad [Ken Griffey Sr.] could probably pick two out of the three." At the conclusion of the season, fans will have the opportunity to vote on the "Major League Baseball Clutch Performer of the Year Presented by Pepsi" winner at MLB.com, the official Web site of Major League Baseball. Griffey enters Saturday's game with 14 homers and 35 RBIs. All of his homers have been hit over the past 40 games. Last month, Griffey passed both Rafael Palmeiro and Harmon Killebrew into eighth place on the all-time home run list. On Friday he hit career homer No. 577, a sixth-inning solo shot, in a 4-3 win over the Indians. "He's been swinging the bat well all year for us," manager Jerry Narron said.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.