A look at Mike Sweeney, back in Kansas City where he spent 13 of his 15 big league seasons, getting some tips on the new additions to Kauffman Stadium.
As we reported in this space last night, the report from Dr. Edward Khalfayan is back on reliever Shawn Kelley and he does indeed have a significant tear in his oblique muscle. Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said moments ago that he will indeed be out at least a month, maybe up to six weeks.
“We hope he gets back sooner than they say it is, but he strained it pretty good,” Wakamatsu said. “Hopefully, it’s a month.”
So, Garrett Olson takes his roster spot and his role, for now, is to give the bullpen another long man. That will enable Jason Vargas to be used in a shorter role.
“If we need some length, either early or late — similar to what we did with Vargas the other day — it might allow me to bring in Vargas on a left-left situation now,” Wakamatsu said.
And once Miguel Batista comes back in another day or so, that will give Wakamatsu another long man option. And more flexibility to use Vargas in situational roles.
Olson told me he only found out about his possible promotion to the big leagues an hour before he was scheduled to start for Class AAA Tacoma yesterday in Salt Lake City. He was scratched from the start, then learned after the game he’d definitely be coming up. He caught a direct flight here from Salt Lake City this morning.
“They said for tonight I’ll just be in the bullpen and maybe go in in a long term relief role,” Olson said. “But if not tonight, then to hang out and just see what happens and they’ll play it by ear.”
In other words, nobody knows what’s going to happen with Carlos Silva should he implode tonight. Stay tuned for more later.
Olson has pitched in the big leagues before. But he said he learned a few things down in Class AAA that should help him now.
“We worked on some things to get me more locked in, keep me more consistent,” Olson said. “It’s something I’m probably going to have to do my whole career.”
Ryan Rowland-Smith told me today that he’ll throw a simulated game next Tuesday in Texas, then head out on a minor league rehab assignment. RRS doesn’t think he’ll need more than an outing or two down there. So, realistically, he’s at least two weeks away from starting here, so he couldn’t make a start in Silva’s place in time. But either Vargas or Olson could. Remember, there’s an off-day next Monday, so the M’s wouldn’t have to start Silva — or his replacement — for another 10 days or so if they wanted to wait on a decision.
As for Sweeney, he’s a popular draw here in KC, getting beseiged by radio, TV, print and fan requests from the moment he landed. But he isn’t complaining. In fact, he’s glad to be in a position to be back here and see all the changes at Kauffman Stadium firsthand.
“I’m just excited that I get a chance to come back here,” he said. “Last September, I was released by the Oakland A’s and we came here about a week before I got released. I thought that was probably going to be the last time I’d have a chance to come to Kauffman Stadium as a player. Getting a chance to come back is pretty awesome and getting a chance to play with all the renovations is pretty neat as well.”
Sweeney had trouble recognizing the place at times. And he’s not alone.
“I think it was Russell Branyan who was saying this last night, he was watching the highlights on Sportscenter, and he said ‘Someone hit a home run over in Chicago.’
“And I was like, ‘Huh? Chicago?’ And he goes ‘Yeah, the stadium is in Chicago.’ And I go, ‘No, that’s Kansas City.’ ”
“And he goes: ‘Oh, it looks so different.’ ”
“It’s different, yes,” Sweeney said. “But the memories are great just the same.”
His favorite memory at this ballpark? After all, it’s not like he has a World Series ring or playoff moment to make this an easy call. After pondering long and hard, he said it was seeing Joe Randa hit a walk-off homer on the first anniversary of his mother’s death.
“He hit a grand slam off Esteban Yan to win the game,” Sweeney said. “It gives me chills thinking about it. But Joe Randa’s one of my best friend and to see him do that on an emotional day is probably the greatest memory i have.”
May 6, 2009 at 3:57 PM