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Former teammates laud Griffey's feat

Former teammates laud Griffey's feat

WASHINGTON -- On Feb. 10, 2000, then-Reds general manager Jim Bowden made a historic trade. He sent outfielder Mike Cameron, infielder Antonio Perez and pitchers Brett Tomko and Jake Meyer to the Mariners for outfielder Ken Griffey Jr., one of the premier players in the game.

Nine seasons later, Griffey is still a member of the Reds, and he added to his legacy on Monday by hitting career home run No. 600 against the Marlins.

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Bowden, now the Nationals' GM, and several of Griffey's former teammates were happy to hear that Griffey reached the milestone. At the same time, Bowden wondered what would have happened if Griffey weren't placed on the disabled list 12 times during his nine-year tenure with Cincinnati.

"A tremendous accomplishment for one of the best power hitters of our time," Bowden said. "If he could have stayed healthy all those years, he would have had over 700 by now and would have become the all-time home run king, surpassing Barry Bonds."

Infielder Aaron Boone has gone through his share of injuries and knows what Griffey has gone through over the years. Boone believes Griffey doesn't have any regrets.

"The injuries are part of it -- I don't think he would change anything," Boone said.

Nationals first baseman Dmitri Young and outfielder Austin Kearns said that Griffey is an ambassador to the game and was never linked to controversy off the field. Both players called him a better friend than a ballplayer.

"Not only am I happy for him, he helped revolutionize the game in a positive way," Young said. "With everything that has been going on [off the field], this is one guy whose name has never come up. He has always been an ambassador to the game despite the tough times he has been going through.

"He will be the first to tell you that he doesn't play the 'What if?' game," Kearns said. "I think he is definitely happy with what he has accomplished. He is a guy you never heard anything about as far as doing any thing illegal. He has done it the right way. Baseball people, especially players and coaches, realize that, too."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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