NEW YORK (AP) Ken Griffey Jr. hugged Derek Jeter and grinned as he chatted with the Yankees captain during batting practice. He braced himself when Alex Rodriguez came barreling around the cage to greet his former teammate.
Griffey said his first trip to Yankee Stadium since 1999 was no big deal, but it sure seemed like the Cincinnati Reds slugger was having a good time.
"Just another road trip," Griffey said. "Can't take it any other way."
The newest member of the 600-home run club went 1-for-4 with an RBI single to help Cincinnati beat New York 4-2.
The last time the Reds played at Yankee Stadium, they won 7-2 on Oct. 21, 1976, to complete a four-game World Series sweep the third and last time New York was swept in the Fall Classic. Griffey's father scored the winning run in the ninth inning of the Reds' 4-3 win in Cincinnati in Game 2.
The two franchises have met in the World Series three times, with the Yankees winning in four games in 1939 and five games in 1961. But Cincinnati had never played a regular-season game in the House that Ruth Built before Friday.
"It's more hype than anything," Griffey said. "The Reds haven't been here in 30 years, so for us it's a road trip that you've got to make."
Not very exciting for Griffey's dad, either, who played for New York for four-plus seasons before he was traded to Atlanta in 1986 and called Junior before the game.
"He didn't even know where I was at," Griffey said with a grin.
Junior served as the designated hitter against the Yankees and manager Dusty Baker said he might not play the field all weekend as he recovers from illness. A sellout crowd of 53,421 gave him a warm reception before each of his at-bats, and cameras flashed in the stands each time he was at the plate.
"Every place we go he gets that kind of reception," Baker said. "People all over really appreciate what he's done in his career."
This is the Reds' only scheduled trip to Yankee Stadium in its last season, but Griffey could be back next month for the All-Star game. He was running third among NL outfielders in the latest fan voting update released Tuesday.
"When it gets here (I'll) figure it out then," Griffey said. "I'm not one of those guys that tries to anticipate a whole lot of things."
Junior hit career homer No. 600 at Florida on June 9 but was mired in a season-worst 0-for-16 skid before his fifth-inning RBI single against New York. He is batting .244 with seven homers and 31 RBIs.
Griffey, who spent his first 11 seasons with Seattle, has had success against the Yankees. He was batting .313 with 33 homers and 93 RBIs in 119 games against New York before this weekend .296 with 18 homers and 50 RBIs in 58 games at Yankee Stadium.
His fondest memories of his time in Bronx?
"Probably robbing Jesse Barfield," Griffey said, wistfully remembering taking a home run away from the former Yankees slugger. "That's pretty much what they show on the highlights. That, and playing my first playoff game here."
Griffey hit five homers three at Yankee Stadium and batted .391 as the Mariners rallied to beat the Yankees in a division series in 1995. He scored the winning run in Game 5, sliding home in the 11th inning to cap Seattle's 6-5 win.
That was long before leg injuries robbed the 38-year-old Griffey of his power. But the slugger isn't really interested in questions about what he might have accomplished if he remained healthy not with the Reds struggling to contend in the NL Central.
"Trying to get this team back on track is my focus," he said.