Sweeney will have an on-field presence among his duties in front-office role
Mike Sweeney, a five-time All-Star for the Royals, will have several duties in his role as special assistant to baseball operations.
Mike Sweeney hit .299 as a member of the Royals with 197 home runs from 1995-2007.
Denny Medley / USA TODAY Sports
By Jeffrey Flanagan
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Mike Sweeney didn't have to hook up with the Royals just to get back into baseball.
In fact, Sweeney last fall had two offers from other major-league teams to be their hitting coach.
"But the more I thought about it," Sweeney said by phone from California, "I figured that if I was going to get back into the game, it had to be with the Royals. The Royals are my organization. They blessed me during my playing time."
So Sweeney did something you wouldn't think would be necessary for someone of his stature -- he actually applied to the Royals. Yep, resume and all.
"I worked up a resume of 2 1/2 pages and shipped it off to the Glass family and to (general manager) Dayton (Moore)," Sweeney said. "I wanted them to know I was serious about this.
"And then I almost got in my car and drove six hours to Phoenix because I knew they were having (organizational) meetings there last fall.
"But we spoke on the phone instead and that went really well."
Sweeney, a five-time All-Star for the Royals, said he will have several duties in his role as special assistant to baseball operations.
One of those duties will include an on-field presence with the team.
"I'll be on the field at times, working with the players," he said. "I'll be scouting. I'll visit every minor-league affiliation.
"Sometimes it might mean taking a guy out to dinner who's scuffling. I'll do it. Whatever it takes."
Actually, Sweeney already has had an impact -- as a favor to the front office, he helped in the recruiting of left-hander Jason Vargas, who eventually signed a free-agent deal with the Royals last fall.
"Kansas City will like him," Sweeney said. "He's going to make a difference."
Sweeney figures he'll make anywhere from three to 10 trips to Kansas City during the season. And when he's here, he will help manager Ned Yost and his staff on the field.
"I want to have an impact on their hearts without stepping on anyone's toes," Sweeney said. "I don't want to interfere with Ned and his staff. But I am at their disposal. I want them to use me as a tool in whatever fashion helps us get better. We're so close to being a championship team and I want to contribute to that."
Sweeney already is familiar with several players and coaches, including James Shields, who lives close to Sweeney near San Diego.
"There's no one quite like James Shields," Sweeney said. "From the pitcher's side, he's absolutely the leader of this team. No one wants to win more than he does."
Sweeney also worked with hitting coach Pedro Grifol when the two were in Seattle.
"He's a special guy and a great coach," Sweeney said.
Sweeney also is anxious to renew friendships with players such as Alex Gordon.
"Alex Gordon is the overall leader of this team," Sweeney said. "I mean, I remember one time last spring telling Ned that if he had 25 Alex Gordons, he'd win the World Series. And Ned said, 'I don't think there are 25 Alex Gordons on the planet.'"
Mostly though, Sweeney is hopeful he can be an inspirational leader with the organization's younger players.
"I had such great tutors, guys like Jeff Montgomery and Mike Macfarlane," he said. "I want to be that tutor for some of these young guys.
"I've had a chance to sit down and talk with guys like (Yordano) Ventura and Bubba Starling and I feel like I was able to have an impact with them in just a short time. I want to do a lot more of that."
Sweeney, 40, was a Royal from 1995-2007. In 2000, he drove in 144 runs. Overall, Sweeney hit .299 for the Royals and hit 197 home runs.
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email email@example.com.