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Team USA in awe watching WBC coach Ken Griffey Jr’s home run

Ken Griffey Jr. won the 1998 Home Run Derby at Coors Field.

MIAMI — Practice was over, the day was done Friday, but the players on Team USA immediately gathered around the batting cage, trying to see the greatest show of  this World Baseball Classic.

It was USA coaches Ken Griffey Jr. and Brian McCann playing spontaneous home run derby.

“We knew something was up when we saw Griffey bringing his own bat on the team bus,’’ Los Angeles Angels All-Star Mike Trout said. “We were hoping. We were begging. And then he did it.’’

Griffey, borrowing Trout’s batting gloves, played a single round of home-run derby, and on the last swing, his 10th, hit into the right-field seats at loanDepot Park.

The players went nuts, screaming and high-fiving Griffey as the Hall of Famer broke into his trademark smile.

It was a thrill of a lifetime, the players said, with many watching Griffey swing for the first time in person.

“It was sick,’’ Trout told USA TODAY Sports. “Nothing like it.’’

Players have been begging Griffey to take a round of batting practice all tournament, and it wasn’t until Friday that he finally conceded.

“Guys were putting a lot of pressure on him,’’ Trout said. “We wanted to see it so bad. He said, “Give me 10 swings, and I know I can hit one out.”

“You still got it!” someone yelled as Griffey headed to the clubhouse.

“I don’t know what I got,’’ Griffey said, laughing. “But I got something. I need three weeks off now.’’

Ken Griffey Jr. won the 1998 Home Run Derby at Coors Field.

In defense of the WBC

Players participating in the WBC are disappointed by the criticism of the tournament in light of Mets closer Edwin Diaz’s injury, with USA starter Lance Lynn becoming latest on Friday to speak out.

If folks are going to blame the WBC for Diaz’s injury, they say, then why not blame spring training for Dodgers shortstop Gavin Lux’s season-ending injury, and shut that down, too.

“Edwin’s an amazing player and it’s a big loss for the Mets,’’ Lynn said, “but when you look at what this is all about and all that, I don’t think he would tell you that he regrets being a part of this. We like to compete, we like to compete for our countries, people that we care about and things like that.

“You never want to get hurt. People get hurt in spring training games every day right now, and no one says we shouldn’t have spring training. So that’s the unfortunate part of the game, people will get hurt, but the beauty of the game is to see the fans, see the passion…

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