Junior's teammate issues challenge

Ken Griffey Jr.'s teammate Mike Sweeney is coming to the veteran's defense.

On Monday The News Tribune of Tacoma, Wash., reported that Ken Griffey Jr. was found sleeping in the clubhouse during a Seattle Mariners game last week.

On Tuesday Mariners DH Sweeney called a Mariners' meeting: "We will support and fight and take a bullet for Ken Griffey Jr. if we have to. He's our teammate," Sweeney told FOXSports.com. "Nothing is going to divide this clubhouse, especially a makeshift article made up of lies."

According to the report two Mariners players told the newspaper Griffey, the team's left-handed designated hitter, had gone back into the clubhouse during a game and stayed there, dozing in a chair.

"He'd gone back about the fifth inning to get a jacket and didn't come back," one unnamed player told The News Tribune . "I went back in about the seventh inning -- and he was in his chair, sound asleep."

The question of Griffey's whereabouts had come up when reporters asked manager Don Wakamatsu why he hadn't used Griffey as a pinch-hitter during the game in question. Wakamatsu didn't answer directly.

Griffey told FOXSports.com: "I'm just hoping whoever said it will be man enough to come to me."

Another Mariner told The News Tribune : "He doesn't sleep well at night, he's away from his family, he's comfortable in the clubhouse. They could have awakened him."

"We don't think there are two players who said that (about Griffey sleeping)," Sweeney told FOXSports.com. "I challenged everyone in that room -- if they said that to stand up and fight me. No one stood up."

Griffey, 40, can't play the field because of problems with a surgically repaired knee. He was hitting .208 through Sunday.