MLB great Ken Griffey Jr. jokes about returning to the diamond to defend his World Baseball Classic batting crown in 2026

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Former Cincinnati Reds and Seattle Mariners center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. returned to the international set-up earlier this month as Team USA’s hitting coach in the World Baseball Classic.

This may be Griffey’s first time in coaching, but that isn’t stopping him from buzzing at the prospect of achieving big things with the national team.

Griffey, who hasn’t been remotely associated with the game since his retirement in 2010 and his Hall of Fame induction five years later, said he was thrilled to be back and couldn’t wait to excite the fans by helping the Americans defend their WBC title.

“That’s got a chance to make 65,000 happy or 65,000 pi***d off,” Griffey told USA Today.

Still competitive by nature, Griffey even quipped about coming back to the playing field at the 2026 WBC to defend his batting title.

Griffey hit a record .524 in the first WBC, with two doubles, three homers, and 10 RBIs in just 21 at-bats.

“I may be coming out of retirement in three years,’’ Griffey said. “I may have to play in the 2026 WBC. I’ve got to defend my batting title.’’

An ever-popular figure in America, Griffey is idolized by numerous players on the team. He might just be the perfect piece in the puzzle behind the batting cage, with a positive outcome likely under his experienced tutelage.

Ken Griffey Jr. is one of the most prolific home-run hitters in history

Ken Griffey Jr. made his MLB debut with the Mariners on April 3, 1989, and he never looked back. He played for the Seattle Mariners, Cincinnati Reds, and Chicago White Sox in the MLB.

Griffey earned a reputation for being a dangerous hitter, often hitting homers for fun. He finished on 630 home runs, the seventh-most in MLB history. Griffey was a 13-time All-Star, one-time AL MVP, 10-time Gold Glove awardee, and seven-time Silver Slugger winner.

“Happy birthday, Ken Griffey Jr!” – MLB, Twitter

As a testament to his success on the field, Griffey was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016, receiving 99.32% of the vote, breaking pitcher Tom Seaver’s record of 98.84% that had stood for 24 years.

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