The Mariners today announced that Chris Shelton was reassigned to the minor league camp. This move means that Mike Sweeney will be the Mariners' first baseman, backing up Russell Branyan.
But Shelton was having monster spring training. Is Sweeney, who will turn 36 in July, better than Shelton? Maybe no as a major league player at this point, but definitely yes as a clubhouse guy.
Sweeney started to age when he was playing for the Royals in 2006. After that, he started to get hurt badly, and can't even play over 74 games.
Then, how did he beat Shelton?
There is an answer.
Sweeney is a clubhouse guy.
The Mariners were having real problem with their clubhouse. Some player tried to beat up the Mariners' top player, Ichiro Suzuki. This showed that the M's team chemistry is very low. So new GM Jack Zduriencik decided to change the clubhouse.
First, by trading away closer J.J. Putz, who apparently had been a problem in the clubhouse. Then, he brought in Sweeney and Ken Griffey, both great clubhouse players to boost team morale.
But Sweeney had to battle for the roster spot because he signed a minor league contract.
Sweeney won it. With his personality.
Good teams have great team chemistry. Now, the M's are going that way. Better club-house, better team chemistry, better team. The M's will be that, in few years.