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Reds will ease Griffey back into everyday play

CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Reds will go easy with Ken Griffey Jr. for another week or so, giving him time to work on his
swing and his confidence.

Griffey went 1-for-3 with a modest single up the middle on
Friday night, his first game since returning from a torn hamstring.
Manager Bob Boone took him out after the fifth inning as a
precaution on a rainy night.

The center fielder was back in the lineup Saturday for a game
against Colorado, hoping to be a little more relaxed.

Boone plans to be cautious with Griffey because the hamstring
isn't back to full strength. He'll consider taking him out of a
lopsided game or giving him a day off if it starts to bother him.

"It's a spring training time for him," Boone said Saturday.
"Hopefully I'll do this for a week or so and see how he reacts,
then he's on his way."

Griffey tore the hamstring during the last week of spring
training, but stayed on the roster as a pinch-hitter in April. He
looked bad while going 0-for-12 and aggravated the hamstring while
running out of the batter's box, prompting the move to the disabled
list.

He hit three grounders up the middle Friday night and looked
much better at the plate, an indication his leg was much better.

"I was just trying to hit everything up the middle," Griffey
said. "I was trying not to do too much."

He didn't have to run hard in center field, where he easily got
to two routine fly balls. He looked smoother running to first on
his last grounder.

"He ran better late," Boone said. "I think he was pretty
nervous and tentative. When he realizes that he can run and the leg
won't fall off, he'll be more natural and just play."

Griffey isn't sure when the hamstring will be back to normal. He
tore the same hamstring last season.

"I don't think you ever get back to 100 percent," he said.
"I'm just trying to get it stronger. If it goes out, it goes
out."

Batting coach Ken Griffey Sr. said it will take some time for
his son and for shortstop Barry Larkin and third baseman Aaron
Boone to start hitting. Larkin and Boone also came off the disabled
list Friday.

"You can't expect a miracle," Griffey Sr. said. "I just want
them to get some consistency in what they're doing."