We told you weeks ago that Mike Sweeney wants to return to the majors for one final season next year and would prefer to play here or in Anaheim, which is close to his home north of San Diego.
The Mariners haven’t made a call on that yet and won’t for several weeks. Sweeney is a pending free agent and will be 36 next season. He put off knee surgery last winter and made it through this year unscathed after taking gel shot injections.
He’s credited a core conditioning program with helping reduce the back spasms that plagued him early. In the second half, he’d hit .316 with an .892 OPS comapred to .250 with a .678 OPS prior. A world of difference.
“I’m just soaking up every minute of these last four days,” Sweeney said. “It’s the most fun I’ve ever had in the big leagues. It’s an amazing clubhouse, playing for a great skipper. I pray I can come back, but we’ll see how the cards unfold.”
Yes, we will.
Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said some mechanical changes Sweeney made to his swing may also be what’s sparing his body all that wear and tear.
“When players age a little bit, they tend to want to use their body and try to make up for a loss of power,” Wakamatsu said. “I saw it last year a little bit where his average was good but his power wasn’t there. And I knew this year at camp coming in, he has such a heart to contribute that he ended up getting a lot of body into his swing. I think the biggest thing is he’s been able to calm that down, use his hands and allow the bat to work.”
Sweeney gives all the credit to hitting coach Alan Cockrell, who has been asked to return along with the entire coaching staff.
We’ll see what happens, but at this stage, bringing Sweeney back seems a no-brainer. He could help offset some of the clubhouse loss should Griffey decide to retire. And his production — now that he’s pain-free — has been a contibution to a needy offense on the field.
It helped Doug Fister pick up his first win in a month. Fister didn’t do anything really special — other than the splits in the first inning while stretching for a throw to first — in his seven innings of one run ball. He struck out four, walked only one and generally let his defense make plays behind him.
Fister had Adam Moore behind the plate, which he admitted was a plus. The two paired together in the minors. all the way back to Class A Everett.
“We mesh well together and we’re on the same page,” Fister said.
Other than that, it was hitting his spots and keeping the ball down. It’s a mantra he repeats often and there’s nothing complicated about it. Fister is not Brandon Morrow and will never be more than he is. If he keeps the ball down, he can get grounders, land strikes and not be taken deep.
That would make him an effective back-end starter. It’s all he’ll ever be and Fister knows it. When he tries to be someone else — get too complicated — he runs into trouble.
An update on Bill Hall, who was pulled from the game late. He’s still not 100 percent and the M’s, knowing his quad is bugging him, did not want to risk further injury or a mistake in the field by keeping him out there. We told you Hall looked slow in chasing after that triple. He’s not totally right and won’t be until after the season.
So, there you have it. The Mariners sweep.