Mariners' torrid Mike Sweeney taking nothing for granted after 4 more hits
Veteran Mike Sweeney had four more hits Wednesday and is batting .559 in Cactus League games, but he still was waiting for official word that he made the Mariners' major-league roster.
Seattle Times staff reporter
SURPRISE, Ariz. — Mike Sweeney clearly isn't taking for granted the fact that the Mariners have already waived his primary spring-training competition.
One day after it was revealed that Ryan Garko had been placed on waivers to free up a roster spot, Sweeney continued his Fountain of Youth Tour on Wednesday by collecting two doubles and two singles. His fourth and final hit brought home the decisive run in a 7-6 win over the Texas Rangers, but still wasn't enough to have Sweeney celebrating what everyone assumes will be an automatic spot on the roster.
"They've told me to be patient, so that's what I'm doing," the 36-year-old Sweeney said after the game. "They have to wait for the roster to work itself out. They'll have it all finalized by Sunday, so that's what I'm waiting for."
And Sweeney apparently isn't kidding about still being uncertain of what happens next. Sources indicate the club is still pondering what to do about Cliff Lee now that an appeal of his five-game suspension won't be heard until the regular season begins.
"There's a lot of stuff up in the air right now," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said, declining to go into detail.
The Mariners optioned Luke French to Class AAA Tacoma on Wednesday, meaning they are down to an 11-man pitching staff for now. There are rumors the Mariners might bring in another starting pitcher — one report had Jarrod Washburn rebuffing a recent overture for less than $1.5 million — but they could also opt to use Shawn Kelley as a long man and keep the bullpen at six arms.
Doing that would enable the team to keep both Sweeney and Ryan Langerhans on the major-league roster.
But Lee's status could throw that scenario out of whack. The Mariners are pondering whether to keep Lee on the roster to begin the season and have him serve his suspension before going on the disabled list.
Lee played catch for several minutes from 60 feet Wednesday and said he felt fine afterward. The Mariners don't want him missing any more time than he has to, which is why he could serve the suspension ahead of any DL stint.
If that happens, either Langerhans or Sweeney would likely have to go.
The Mariners like Langerhans, especially as a center-field backup, and fear he'd be claimed on waivers if outrighted to AAA. But the only other option, if Lee begins the season on the roster, is to outright Sweeney to AAA for five days and go with Milton Bradley as the primary right-handed hitting designated hitter.
There is always a risk that Sweeney, like Langerhans, could be claimed on waivers if sent to the minors.
For now, the only certainty is that Garko will be removed from the roster once his waiver period expires Thursday. The Mariners exposed him to waivers, knowing he wouldn't make their team and hoping another club might take on his $550,000 salary.
Sweeney has been told he'll make the trip to New Mexico to launch the final exhibition series after Thursday's finale in Arizona.
The Mariners saw non-roster invitee David Pauley make a four-inning start Wednesday to cap a spring in which he made a good impression on coaches. Pauley is already in minor-league camp, but could be called up if a spot starter or long reliever is needed.
"I came into camp wanting to make an impression and to be ready for anything they needed," Pauley said after allowing five runs on 11 hits in four innings against the Rangers. "Absolutely, I felt I had a pretty good spring. I developed a lot of real good things and I think I showed them I'm a guy they can look to down the road."
The starting rotation is now listed as Felix Hernandez, Ian Snell, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Doug Fister and Jason Vargas, though one of the last two could slide back into long relief if another starter is added. The Mariners also could add a nonroster player to fill the seventh bullpen spot, with Jesus Colome the only candidate still in major-league camp.
Given the roster squeeze, that's highly unlikely.
"There's nothing I can do," Colome said with a shrug after an inning of one-hit ball Wednesday. "I'm waiting and seeing what they decide."
Sweeney is attempting to remain philosophical about it all, knowing he can't do much better than his .559 Cactus League batting average.
"If I make it, great, I get to stay with the guys and play another season." he said. "If I don't, then I get to go home and be with my family. It's a pretty good position to be in."
• The Mariners placed pitcher Erik Bedard and infielder Jack Hannahan on the 15-day disabled list. The fact that Bedard wasn't placed on the 60-day DL, which could have freed a roster spot, indicates the team still holds some hope he can be ready to pitch in May.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read his daily blog at www.seattletimes.com/Mariners
|Ichiro rf||4||0||1||0||Borbon cf||4||1||1||1|
|McOwen pr||1||0||0||0||M.Young 3b||5||1||2||2|
|Figgins 2b||3||0||1||0||Hamilton lf||5||1||3||0|
|Woodwrd 2b||1||0||0||0||Guerrero dh||5||1||2||0|
|Kotchman 1b||4||0||1||0||N.Cruz rf||5||0||1||1|
|Tsosopo pr||1||0||0||0||C.Davis 1b||4||1||2||1|
|Bradley lf||3||1||3||0||Brown 1b||0||0||0||0|
|Patterson pr||1||2||0||0||Sltlmacchia c||3||1||2||0|
|Sweeney dh||5||2||4||3||A.Blanco 2b||4||0||1||1|
|Bonilla pr||0||0||0||0||Andrus ss||4||0||0||0|
|Seattle||000 310 021||— 7||14||0|
|Texas||022 200 000||— 6||14||0|
|Aardsma W, 1-1||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|Eyre L, 1-1||1||1||1||1||1||1|
HBP — by Harden (Figgins). WP — Pauley, Harden, Moscoso. A — 7,966.
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