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02/15/11 3:23 PM EST

Griffey rejoins Mariners as special consultant

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Ken Griffey Jr., the greatest player in Mariners history, has agreed to rejoin the club as a special consultant and work with the team in a variety of roles this coming season.

The Mariners announced Tuesday morning that Griffey, who retired midway through the 2010 season, will work with the team at various points throughout Spring Training and the regular season, as well as visiting most of Seattle's Minor League affiliates.

"I'm looking forward to staying very involved with the Mariners, working with the players throughout the organization, staying involved with the community and assisting in other areas," Griffey said in a statement. "It's an exciting time and I'm appreciative of the opportunity."

Griffey retired last season after 22 years in the Major Leagues, including 13 with Seattle.

This is good news for Mariners fans who wondered if Junior would retain any link to Seattle after leaving the team abruptly last June 2, when he simply released a statement through the club after he'd already begun driving home to Florida.

"He is our iconic player, the best player to ever play for the Mariners," said club president Chuck Armstrong. "The way I look at it is, Kenny has come back home."

Armstrong said Griffey's role is still evolving, but that among his desires is to talk to the club's Minor Leaguers about what it means to be a Mariner, as well as meeting with corporate partners and representing the team in various ways.

"I can't think of anybody better for that than Ken Griffey Jr.," Armstrong said.

The Mariners said Griffey will be involved in Major League Baseball operations and player development as well as its Minor League system, marketing, broadcasting and community relations.

He's expected to join the club for part of Spring Training in Peoria, Ariz., and then make several trips to Seattle, as well as visiting some of the team's Minor League teams. Armstrong said he didn't know if Griffey would be at Opening Day due to a possible conflict, with details still being worked out.

Manager Eric Wedge welcomed the news and said he's hopeful other former Mariners like Edgar Martinez, Jay Buhner, Dan Wilson and John Olerud also come to Spring Training at some point in the next six weeks.

"It's important to have that connection to the past, and understand the history of what has gone on before you," Wedge said. "This is the uniform you wear and where you are right now, and the more guys understand that, the more passionate they'll be about it."

Armstrong said he's been talking to Griffey about having some long-standing role with the club ever since he re-signed with the Mariners in 2009.

"Ken made it clear then that he wanted to come back as a Mariner, finish his playing career as a Mariner, and when he was done playing, we're hoping, have a life-long relationship as a Mariner," Armstrong said. "This is something that has long been in the works."

Griffey, 41, stands fifth on baseball's all-time home run list with 630, won 10 Gold Gloves and was a 13-time All-Star.

He began and ended his career with the Mariners, breaking into the Major Leagues at age 19 in 1989 and spending his first 11 seasons in Seattle. He then returned to the Mariners for his final full season in '09, and played 33 more games with the club in '10 before retiring.

Griffey ranks second behind Martinez in Mariners history in games played, runs, RBIs and doubles, and is the all-time franchise leader in home runs with 417.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.