As you might expect, everyone is abuzz about tonight’s game against the Mariners, since it represents Ken Griffey, Jr.’s return to Seattle.

The AP reports that Griffey is afraid of hearing some boos up there. I’ll say this: if Mariners faithful don’t give Junior a five minute standing ovation, it will be a classless move.

Other media reports say that Seattle is excited about the return:

Whether young or old, new fans or lifetime fans, newcomers to Seattle or homegrown products, the consensus among Mariners fans seems to be the same.

Welcome back, Junior.

Excitement continues to grow for the return of one of Seattle’s biggest stars, Ken Griffey Jr., who will make his first trip to Safeco Field since the Mariners traded him to Cincinnati after the 1999 season.

Griffey, out of Seattle but not of the hearts of countless Mariners fans, is expected to receive a positive reaction from the anticipated near-capacity crowds that will file into Safeco Field when the Mariners play the Reds in a three-game Interleague series beginning Friday.

How does Junior feel about all this?

“Junior is definitely excited and looking forward to it,” said Brian Goldberg, Griffey’s longtime agent. “He doesn’t get excited about personal milestones, but baseball-wise, he’s as excited as I’ve seen him in a long time. Believe me, he’s plenty excited.”

And so, too, are Mariners fans.

When Junior walks onto the field for the first time on Friday, fans are expected to give him a loud and warm reception. They know that without Junior, there probably would be no MLB team in Seattle, and definitely no Safeco Field.

“In New York, Yankee Stadium is the House That Ruth built,” Armstrong said. “In Seattle, Safeco Field is the house that Junior built.”

Here are stories about the return from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Cincinnati Enquirer. It’s all pretty interesting, really. Hope Junior returns with a splash — and a homer or two.

UPDATE: More on the subject from Trent Rosencrans, John Fay, Hal McCoy…and John Erardi, whose article is the best of the bunch. If you read only one, read Erardi’s.