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Bengals record assist

4-16-02, 5:15 p.m.


There wasn't an eclipse or anything, but for nearly an hour Tuesday two potential first ballot Hall-of-Famers in football and baseball shared Paul Brown Stadium.

As Pro Bowl running back Corey Dillon took a break in his daily workout, he greeted Reds center-fielder Ken Griffey Jr. on his way to use the hydrotherapy equipment in the Bengals' training room.

Bengals President Mike Brown, a Reds' fan who keeps up with the team daily, was glad to hear his underwater treadmill was making waves for the Cincinnati Kid.

"His medical people thought our pool could help," Brown said Tuesday of Griffey's knee injury. "Anything we can do to help him get back on the field, I'm glad to do it."

Dillon, drafted by the San Diego Padres out of high school, observed, "I could outhit Ken, but I wouldn't tell him that."

Dillon was kidding, but Griffey had some serious business to handle as he recovers from a partially torn patella tendon. With the Bengals implementing the "Good Neighbor Policy," Griffey worked for nearly an hour on the treadmill in a pool under the supervision of Reds therapist Lonnie Soloff. Griffey, who plans to work out a couple of times a

week at PBS in his bid to return some time in May, gave a thumbs-up.

"Nice machine. Why don't we get one?" Griffey asked Soloff. Told there would be a similar one in the Reds' new ballpark next year, he said, "We can put one in

right now in three days with the right pipes. They put a pool in my house in eight days."

Griffey was kidding, too, but he appreciated the assist from the other team. Some Bengals raised their eyebrows when they saw him, recalling how Griffey ripped the football team last summer. But bygones were bygones Tuesday.

"Of all the new equipment we have, this aquatic treadmill is, without question, the most versatile and probably the most valuable thing we have," said Bengals trainer Paul Sparling, who took the initial request from his Cinergy counterpart, Reds trainer Greg Lynn.

"You're only limited by your own imagination in how you use it," Sparling said. "You get guys using weight-bearing parts sooner in the water because the buoyancy in the water reduces the amount of weight on the lower extremities."

Soloff seemed to get pretty imaginative Tuesday. He had Griffey jogging, walking backward, and doing some leg extensions and thrusts.

"We can do some exercises he can't do on land yet," Soloff said. "We're grateful the Bengals are letting us use it because we think it's going to be a big help."

Some Bengals were surprised that the man who along with Barry Bonds is chasing the all-time homer record is built like a defensive back at 6-3, 205 pounds. They took time to say hello.

Wide receiver Peter Warrick leaned into the pool to shake hands. "Nice to meet you," they said, and Griffey reminisced with Bengals director of pro/college personnel Jim Lippincott and cornerback Rodney Heath.

Lippincott, the Moeller High School athletic director when Griffey played football and baseball in Kenwood, got a full scouting report when he asked about his two children. Trey Griffey is eight and is apparently a handful at running back.

"My daughter is six, but she wants to be the quarterback," Griffey said.

Lippincott had to go upstairs to a draft meeting, where Brown joked, "He still wants us to draft Griffey because he still says he's the best high school receiver he saw."

Griffey caught up with Heath when Heath went into an adjoining pool to rehab his torn hamstring. His injury was more severe than the torn ham that shelved Griffey for the first half of last season. But Griffey, who didn't have surgery, wanted to hear about Heath's rehab from the operation that repaired three complete tears from the bone.

"I knew him as a little kid because my brother Lee played baseball against him when he was at LaSalle and Griff was at Moeller," Heath said. "Then Lee signed with the (Atlanta) Braves and they hung out a little bit. I was at the game he hurt his knee and I told him I thought it wasn't as bad as it looked."

Griffey mixed easily in the football training room. He related some stories about his Orlando, Fla., neighbor to a Tiger Woods fan, recalling a round he played with the three-time Masters champion. Woods, it seems, put down a cheeseburger to hit a drive 330 yards with ketchup dripping down his arm.

When he saw Heath riding the exercise bicycle, Griffey told him, "Hey, Tour de France, give me a call."

But he wasn't as expansive about when he might be back. Asked if he could play in three weeks, Griffey smiled and nodded at Soloff.

"If he leaves me alone," Griffey said.

But Soloff can't wait to put him back in the pool again.

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