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September 8, 2009 at 5:46 PM

Mike Sweeney plans to play again in 2010

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Up until about a week ago, Mike Sweeney was pretty certain this was his final major league season. His eldest son began kindergarten last week near their home just north of San Diego and Sweeney was feeling it was time to call it a career and be closer to his family. But several things have happened to change all of that.
There were a couple of minor ones, like the fact he’s been on a five-week hitting tear, raising his average from .228 to .273 and adding power to go with that. Sweeney credits hitting coach Alan Cockrell for much of that, saying he’s “been instrumental in slowing the game down.”
Now, Sweeney says his mental mindset and mechanical approach is a lot better than it was early on and he’s seeing the ball better and making improved decisions on the pitches he swings at.
It’s helped that a core conditioning program the team’s training staff put him on has eased the back problems that plagued Sweeney throughout the first half. He needs to get double microfracture surgery on his knee, but put that off last winter by taking three to four “gel shot” injections per week for a 3-4 week period. So far, the shots have worked to help lubricate the knee joint and prevent the kind of swelling and arthritic pain that would have kept him from playing.
Sweeney now plans to postpone the surgery again, take more gel shots this winter and then play the 2010 season “as long as somebody is willing to give me the opportunity.”
But what really changed his mind? Not the hitting, which had been hot for a month before he made his decision. Not the recovery from injuries, because he doesn’t want to use those as an excuse for his poor first half play.
Sweeney insists it was a conversation he had with his wife.

“She sat me down about a week ago and said ‘I just wanted you to know that if you want to play another year, I’m behind you 100 percent’,” Sweeney said.
She talked to him about moving their son to another school, or even home schooling him if he had to go play somewhere else. Sweeney doesn’t want it to come down to that. He’s narrowed his choices to essentially two places — Seattle and here in Anaheim — where he’d really like to be.
Anaheim is about an hour’s drive from his family’s home while Seattle is a fairly quick flight away.
“It just meant the world to me that she said that,” Sweeney said. “Because I believe that, as the head of the household, your family has to come first. That’s why I was prepared to retire and not have to move my family around. We’ll see what happens this winter. I probably won’t know if I’ll get the opportunity to play for another five months or so. But if I do and it can be in a place where we could all make it work, then I’d love to play another season.”
Some quick Mariners news for you: Brandon Morrow will indeed start for Tacoma in Friday’s playoff game against Sacramento.
The Mariners plan to keep their rotation intact for the remainder of the road trip, meaning Luke French will start and so will Doug Fister, whose blister is healing well.
Sean White is to undergo an MRI back in Seattle, so clearly, the club is concerned this is more than mere fatigue plaguing his shoulder. Chris Jakubauskas also has soreness in his arm and won’t be available tonight. Remember, we talked the past month or so about how the workload would start catching up to these young arms throwing more innings than they are used to. Well, it’s happening and the team is very conscious of how delicate the situation is. We might see some more four-or-five-run innings off relievers left in to take a beating to spare others from having to even warm up. You can’t mess around with this stuff.
Russell Branyan is continuing to progress and will start working out with the team when it returns off the road next week. Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said he’s hopeful Branyan can return before the season ends.
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Came real close to capturing a Ken Griffey Jr. (who plays tomorrow) tickle attack on Ichiro in the photo above. If you look to the far right, you can see Griffey pounce on Ichiro. Could not set the camera in time. Like a cheetah on a gazelle, youy only get a quick second to snap it. Below, you can see the aftermath, with a laughing Ichiro on the ground trying to breathe as Griffey walks away. Hey, that’s almost better than an actual live photo of the Bullpen Gorilla, no?
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Want to know what Ichiro saw when he walked out of the dugout tunnel for the team stretch today? Look down below. Yes, all of Japan is here. If there’s an earthquake on Mount Fuji tonight, there won’t be any media there to cover it.
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The lineups:
RF Ryan Langerhans
CF Franklin Gutierrez
1B Jose Lopez
DH Mike Sweeney
3B Adrian Beltre
LF Bill Hall
SS Jack Wilson
2B Josh Wilson
C Rob Johnson
RHP Felix Hernandez
OK and now the Angels…NAH! I’m just messing with you folks. Ichiro is playing right field and leading off, not Langerhans. Relax, get off the ledges.
Now, for the Angels…
3B Chone Figgins
2B Maicer Izturis
RF Bobby Abreu
DH Vladimir Guerrero
CF Torii Hunter
1B Kendry Morales
SS Erick Aybar
C Mike Napoli
LF Gary Matthews Jr.
LHP Scott Kazmir

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