Ken Griffey Jr. said the deaths of Walter Payton and Payne Stewart triggered him to ask the Mariners to trade him to a team closer to his home in Florida. He knew both the U.S. Open golf champion and the NFL's career rushing leader, but the death of Stewart was more shattering, Griffey said in an interview in yesterday's editions of the Seattle Times.

"While my decision was mainly about family, this is what led to my final decision," Griffey was quoted as saying. "Payne missed the cut at Disney [a golf tournament in Orlando]. On Saturday, he went to see his son play football--his first football game--and he caught a touchdown pass.

"On Monday, his wife and daughter kissed him goodbye. Forty-five minutes later, he's not there anymore."

Stewart, enjoying his best year on the PGA Tour with $2 million in earnings, died last week in a Learjet crash.

The accident drove home Griffey's desire to spend more time with his family.

"With our travel," Griffey said, "I play on one end of the country, and they live at the other end. I'd be flying all over the place. With [son] Trey in school, it would even be tougher."

LOPES HIRED: Davey Lopes, the first-base coach of the Padres, was hired to manage the Brewers, a team source said. Lopes and Yankees third-base coach Willie Randolph were the finalists to succeed Phil Garner.

CONE FILES: David Cone, still unsure of his future, became the first member of the Yankees to file for free agency since the team won its second straight World Series last week. The 36-year-old right-hander was among seven players who filed yesterday, increasing the total to 81. The other players who filed yesterday were Orioles RHP Jim Corsi, Rockies RHP Jerry Dipoto, Blue Jays OF Brian McRae, Athletics RHP Greg McMichael, Cardinals LHP Donovan Osborne and Braves OF Gerald Williams.