SEATTLE - Ken Griffey Jr. retired last night, ending one of the great careers in baseball.

The 40-year-old Griffey told the Mariners that he was done playing, and manager Don Wakamatsu made the announcement before Seattle faced Minnesota.

"While I feel I am still able to make a contribution on the field and nobody in the Mariners front office has asked me to retire, I told the Mariners when I met with them prior to the 2009 season and was invited back that I will never allow myself to become a distraction," Griffey said in a statement.

"I feel that without enough occasional starts to be sharper coming off the bench, my continued presence as a player would be an unfair distraction to my teammates and their success as a team is what the ultimate goal should be," he said.

He was not at Safeco Field last night for the game against the Twins.

Griffey was hitting only .184 with no homers and seven RBI this year and recently went a week without playing. There was a report earlier this season - which Griffey denied - that he'd fallen asleep in the clubhouse during a game.

Asked to react, team president Chuck Armstrong, said, "It caught me off-guard today with the swiftness of the decision." He added that he did not try to change Griffey's mind.

Griffey was a perennial All-Star outfielder and ranks fifth on the career home run list with 630. He won an MVP award in 1997 and was a Gold Glover. The only thing missing on his resume was a trip to the World Series. *