This past week the media caused a tidal wave of destruction for the Mariners as it was reported that Ken Griffey Jr. had slept during a game. There were outcries that Griffey should retire and that the Mariners organization as a whole should look themselves in the mirror. That the Mariners were becoming an embarrassment to baseball. Then, there's the story of Mike Sweeney.
Sweeney, a backup Designated Hitter for the Seattle Mariners the past two seasons has been a positive influence to say the least. He was projected not to make the team as Spring Training began this season. He ended up having the hottest Spring Training of any Mariner and made the roster.
With has role from last year back in place, he was able to join up with Griffey again in being the moral support for the team. He is the one coming out on the steps of the dugout to support and encourage teammates after each important at bat or defensive play. Whether it be through a high five or a slap on the back. That was no less apparent than his support with Griffey.
The backup in Sweeney has been at the forefront for Griffey. Not only in his words, but in his actions, he has helped try and salvage a rough beginning for Griffey. Even when Griffey strike outs or hits a pop fly he's the first there to offer support. It can't hurt, considering the brutal defeats the Mariners have taken since their last road trip to Chicago. That includes today's 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay behind Cliff Lee's Complete Game, two run, and five hit performance.
Sweeney has been overlooked much of his career because he played in Kansas City. He is a lifetime .298 hitter, with five All-Star appearances and had the second highest batting average in 2002 at .340. He has been through some tough baseball years.
During his sixteen-year career, Sweeney has never been to the Playoffs and only been on a winning team twice. Last year was the second time. So it could be understood that any apparent chance of making the Playoffs would be of unmeasured joy for a man who could be done with playing at any instant.
I expected to see Sweeney as a potential bench coach this season and was surprised when he was brought back. I have also been surprised how he has been able to hit a Home Run in his past three games as the Designated Hitter. Already placing him second on the team in Home Runs. Hopefully, Sweeney will be able to get some more at bats and see if some of the Kansas City swing can take hold of him. We know one thing though, he's willing to go to bat for his teammates.