Ichiro: Griffey’s friendship is “close to a miracle.”

 If you’re looking for a reason why Ichiro has defied age and Nate Silver to post his best stats since 2004, Larry Stone sez try an afternoon in the M’s clubhouse.

That’s where you’ll find Ken Griffey Jr. “messing with” Ichiro — roughhousing with him, criticizing his emo-wear — making him feel part of the team.

“This is the happiest I’ve seen Ichiro since 2001,” trainer Rick Griffin tells Stone.

Ichiro sounds like he’s about to give Junior a Nobel Peace Prize.

“It’s fun to come to the clubhouse every day and just watch him, listen to him. He’s like a different creature than the rest of us. It’s like he’s from a different planet. … That’s what we’ve been missing here, that’s the hole he’s filled, that’s what he does. He brings a team together just by being himself.”

As as for what Griffey has meant to him — it seems incalculable.

“I always thought opening my heart would be close to impossible in baseball with so many differences between me and other players. It’s been close to a miracle with Junior. We have a special relationship – something I’ve never had before.”

I guess we can’t assess the meaning of the Griffey signing merely on his own meager contributions to the offense — give him 15 of Ichiro’s hits and suddenly it looks like a pretty good deal.


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