Ken Griffey Jr. can still hit dingers, and Team USA was loving it

March 17th, 2023

In Team USA’s media availability on Friday, manager Mark DeRosa estimated that Ken Griffey Jr. was “half of the team’s childhood hero.”

Not long after that comment, those same players got a chance to feel like a kid again by watching The Kid. Griffey -- DeRosa’s hitting coach -- took part in an impromptu batting practice alongside Brian McCann, another former player on DeRosa’s coaching staff.

With seemingly every player on Team USA huddled around the batting cage -- some of whom were recording the moment on their phones -- the two coaches took turns trying to send balls into the bleachers at loanDepot park, with Griffey sporting his signature backwards cap.

Despite being 13 years removed from his playing days, Griffey’s swing looked as smooth as ever, and he ended his session with a home run -- punctuated with a bat flip as he was showered with cheers from the Team USA players. After the ball landed in the stands, Nolan Arenado pointed at Griffey and said, “I told you, I told you!”

Per Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Griffey did it all while wearing Mike Trout’s batting gloves, and Trout and the rest of his teammates knew something was up when Griffey brought his own bat on the team bus.

A 22-year MLB veteran and Hall of Famer, Griffey slugged 630 home runs in his Major League career, and he also hit three home runs in the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006 as a member of Team USA.

On Saturday, Trout and his teammates will take on Venezuela in Miami in a quarterfinals matchup at 7 p.m. ET on FOX, with the winner advancing to the WBC semifinals. But even if Team USA fails to advance, every player on the team will leave the tournament with a moment they’ll carry with them for the rest of their life.

“It was sick,’’ Trout told Nightengale. “Nothing like it.’’