Spring training hasn’t gone as planned for the
Seattle Mariners. Cliff Lee will open the season on the disabled list. Milton Bradley’s bitterness toward the Cubs has remained an issue.
Yet, Seattle is also home to one of the most compelling personal stories of the spring: Mike Sweeney has made the Mariners’ Opening Day roster, one major league source said Tuesday afternoon.
Sweeney, long regarded as one of the game’s ultimate good guys, entered camp as a long shot to make the roster as a non-roster invitee. But the 36-year-old outperformed the younger Ryan Garko, who will now be placed on waivers.
Sweeney is batting .517 in Cactus League play, Garko only .220.
Manager Don Wakamatsu and the coaching staff were said to be strong advocates for Sweeney from the beginning of camp — in part because of his off-the-field contributions.
Because of his defensive limitations, Sweeney fits on the roster in a designated hitter platoon with Ken Griffey Jr. In the clubhouse, the two will be counted on to help the talented-yet-often-troubled Bradley adjust to a new environment.
A big spring was probably necessary for Sweeney to make the club — and extend his career. He said earlier this month that he would retire if he didn’t make a major league roster.
Sweeney has played in 1,398 games — second only to Randy Winn (1,601) among active major leaguers who haven’t reached the postseason, according to STATS LLC. He batted .281 with eight home runs and 34 RBIs in 74 games for the Mariners last year.
Three years ago, Garko hit 21 home runs for a Cleveland team that came within one victory of the World Series. But he has been with three organizations since last July, an indication that he has become a role player at age 29.
Still, Garko could appeal to teams that need right-handed power. The division rival Rangers are one such club, but their current interest level in Garko isn’t high, one source said.