The Mariners have signed DH Mike Sweeney to a minor league contract with an invite to major league spring training.
"We are happy to invite Mike to Spring Training,” GM Jack Zduriencik said in a press release. “He was an integral part of the 2009 season and we look forward to him competing for a spot on the roster this season."
Realistically, Sweeney has little chance of making the Mariners 25-man roster. This move is a way to have Sweeney and his big personality in spring training for another year. Manager Don Wakamatsu likes having Sweeney and his relentlessly positive attitude around as an example for younger players. But it also offers Sweeney a chance to work out and see some game action in hopes of maybe signing with another team.
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Still, Sweeney has been told that, if no other team makes him an offer, he's welcome to come to camp with Seattle. There he'd get the chance to get into regular-season shape, play in some spring games, show he's healthy and perhaps draw the interest of another team.
Sweeney, 36, hit .281 (68x242) with 25 runs scored, 15 doubles, 8 home runs and 34 RBI in 74 games with the Mariners last season. He missed 11 games while he was on the disabled list from July 7 (retro to July 6) to July 21 with back spasms. Sweeney was originally signed as a minor league free agent by Seattle on Jan. 29, 2009. He made the club last year after coming to camp as a non-roster invitee.
Sweeney hit .381 (32x84) with 11 runs, 6 doubles, 4 home runs and 15 RBI over his last 25 games. His average from Aug. 20-end of season was the second-highest in the Majors (min: 90 plate appearances). He hit .455 (5x11) as a pinch hitter, tied for highest in the AL (min. 10 PA).
Sweeney is a .298 career hitter with 207 home runs and 883 RBI in 1398 games over 15 seasons in the Majors. Sweeney spent the first 13 years of his career (1995-2007) in Kansas City before spending the 2008 season with Oakland and signing with Seattle prior to 2009. He is a five-time All-Star (2000-03, 2005) and hit .300 in four consecutive seasons from 1999-2002, including a career high .340 in 2002. He set a Royals single season RBI record with 144 in 2000 and added a career high 29 home runs that year and in 2001.
The Mariners now have 63 players reporting to Major League Spring Training (40 players on 40-man roster, 23 non-roster invitees). Pitchers and Catchers will hold their first workout February 18 in Peoria, Ariz., and the first full-squad workout will be held Feb. 23.