Ken Griffey, Jr. was back in the Mariners clubhouse yesterday, as if he never left.

In his first public comments since he drove off into the sunset last June — 20 minutes of interrogation while sitting on a table in the press room, a solemn expression on his face most of that time — Griffey was by turns defiant, stubborn and unapologetic.

In Griffey's mind, his abrupt departure had been forewarned, and doesn't warrant the apology that many fans are seeking.

"I mean, you want me to apologize for something I felt was right?" he said. "I felt it was right for me to leave. I'm not going to do it. It was not intended to hurt people. It was a decision I made that 15 years ago (to retire without a news conference). It wasn't like it was something you guys hadn't heard before. I mean, you guys have heard it from day one. There are some people that are upset, and there are some people that are not. I can't worry about it. I had to do what I thought was best for me."

Griffey will be helping out at Spring Training, visiting minor league teams during the season, and doing an occasional broadcast.