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February 12, 2010 at 11:28 AM

Mike Sweeney wants to be able to look himself in the mirror

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Mike Sweeney just said on a conference call that, sure, he thought about retiring, but wanted to be able to look himself in the mirror afterwards and have no “what if?” moments. Sweeney said Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik actually approached his agents about a coaching role this off-season.
But Sweeney feels healthy, says he’s in great shape and wants a shot at playing again. If that doesn’t work out, he’ll take a year off with his family, then ponder opportunities to get back in the game after that.
“At least I’ll be able to live the rest of my life in freedom,” he said of answering any lingering on-field doubts for himself. “I don’t want to be looking in that rear-view mirror and questioning myself.”
Sweeney added: “The easy way out would be to look in the mirror and say there’s not a great opportunity for me to make the team, so let’s just shut it down and be with my family, my kids and call it quits. But for me, I like to think of myself as a fighter. It started at a young age.”
Sweeeney talked about being born two months premature and being given only a 50 percent chance of surviving the night. And of how the Royals told him 16 years ago he probably wouldn’t make that squad.
He now feels his chances are even more slim (than what the Royals said, not his natal care doctors) but wants to give it a shot.
He knows much will ride on his ability to play first base and give the team flexibility beyond merely his bat. Sweeney had gel shots done on his knee two weeks ago. He had the same procedure last year, helping him avoid likely career-ending microfracture surgery, and it worked out fine.

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Sweeney had contemplated retirement late last season, but changed his mind after a heart-to-heart talk with his wife, who told him to go for it in 2010 if he wanted. Still, the retirement thoughts lingered. But he said the juices started flowing again at season’s end, when he carried Ken Griffey Jr. off the field on his shoulders after the team’s final game.
From there, he spent five days in Montana fishing at a cabin owned by Mariners trainer Rick Griffin. From there, he went home to his family and began working out right away.
“I wanted to be back as a Seattle Mariner, it was my first choice all winter,” he said. “Jack Zduriencik and Don Wakamatsu, they made it clear to me that it’s going to be an uphill battle for me to make the team. I had two other opportunities to go to camp with teams and it’s just a no-brainer for me. Even though the opportunity may not be easy. It’s still an opportunity.
“I’m going to come into camp and my goal is to make the people around me better. I would like to think that, last year, I had a positive effect on not only the clubhouse, but individually. Guys like Russell Branyan. And I’d like to do that this year. I’d like to embrace guys like Kotchman and Garko and Mike Carp and…even Milton Bradley and help these guys get to that level that they know they can play at.
“Whether I’m a Seattle Mariner for the next six weeks or the next two years, I’ll always be grateful for the 2009 season and the love that I had for the guys in that clubhouse.”
And if things don’t work out this spring, Sweeney said Zduriencik has pledged to try to find him a job elsewhere as Opening Day nears. If that doesn’t work out either, Sweeney’s next choice is to go home to his family.
And live the rest of his life knowing he went down fighting.
So, given the popularity of that tortoise video I posted, here’s another from last week’s adventure in the Galapagos Islands. I’m snorkeling with my new underwater video gadget when Amy pounds on my shoulder and spins me around. Click the video to see what’s coming. Does make you freeze up for a moment when you’re the one in the water.



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