Mariners blackball Griffey nap reporter

The Seattle Mariners apparently do not take kindly to suggestions that one of their players is sleeping on the job.

One day after a report in the Tacoma News Tribune that Mariners outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. was unavailable to pinch hit in a recent game because he was sleeping in the clubhouse, the team gave the silent treatment to the reporter responsible for the article.

After the Mariners' win over the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday, pitcher Cliff Lee started to address the media before stopping and saying he couldn't go on until the News Tribune 's Larry LaRue left the room.

Other members of the team followed Lee's lead at their lockers, according to multiple reports.

The original News Tribune report cited two "younger players" on the Mariners that said he was sleeping in the clubhouse during a game last week.

"He was asleep in the clubhouse," one player said, according to the report. "He'd gone back about the fifth inning to get a jacket and didn't come back. I went back in about the seventh inning -- and he was in his chair, sound asleep."

The issue heated up later Monday, with Mariners teammate Mike Sweeney offering a stern defense of Griffey to's Ken Rosenthal.

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

Sweeney also said he called a team meeting to address the issue.

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

Griffey also insisted Monday that he was available -- and not asleep -- in the clubhouse.

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