Ken Griffey, the remaining vestige of the Cincinnati Reds Big Red Machine of the 1970s, retired Saturday before the Reds' game with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Griffey, who made his major league debut with Cincinnati in 1973, reported to the Cincinnati clubhouse before a nationally televised game with Pittsburgh and reportedly was partially dressed for practice when summoned to Manager Lou Piniella's office.Shortly afterward the 40-year-old reserve said he was ending his 18-year big-league career. Griffey left Riverfront Coliseum reportedly to travel to New York where his son, Seattle Mariners outfielder Ken Griffey, Jr., is playing against the Yankees.

"Ken is a class person who had a great career," Piniella said. "I played with him for the Yankees and coached and managed him at New York and here in Cincinnati. He helped with the leadership in our clubhouse and I enjoyed being around him.

"Ken had talked about retirement and today he did it, but he'll still be around here to help us and work with the staff."

The Reds manager said Griffey, who spent nine seasons with the Reds from 1973-81 and was a key member of Cincinnati's 1975 and '76 world championship teams, was considering coaching, possibly with the Reds.

Griffey's departure opened a roster spot for left-hander Chris Hammond, who started Saturday's game against the Pirates. Hammond was recalled from Class AAA Nashville of the American Association, where he was 14-1 with a 2.17 ERA. He had 139 strikeouts in 141 innings.

Hammond is replacing Danny Jackson, now on the 15-day disabled list, in the Reds' starting rotation.

Griffey was traded to the Yankees on Nov. 4, 1981, for Fred Toliver and Brian Ryder. He spent 4 1-2 seasons with New York before being traded to Atlanta on June 29, 1986 with Andre Robertson for Claudell Washington and Paul Zuvella.

Griffey was released by Atlanta and signed by the Reds as a free agent on Aug. 2, 1988.

"It'll be tough without Kenny," said Reds center fielder Eric Davis. "He was an inspiration to us through his very presence in the clubhouse. He gave us leadership that always was positive. He was my friend and he'll be missed."