Sweeney Signed By Seattle Mariners

Team officials have confirmed that 35-year-old righty starter Brian Sweeney has been signed by the Seattle Mariners organization.  He’s headed for Triple-A after just two days in a Somerset uniform.

Sweeney had spent the last three seasons of his career in Japan before heading back to the United States with the hopes of rekindling his big league dreams; which he initially fulfilled with the Mariners back in 2003.  He also pitched for the San Diego Padres in the 2004 and 2006 seasons.

Originally from Yonkers, New York, Sweeney now lives in upstate New York and had intended on inviting his family and friends to come see him pitch at TD Bank Ballpark.  Now, the trip will be a bit longer given that Seattle’s Triple-A affiliate is out in Tacoma, Washington. 

When I spoke with Sweeney on the phone last week, he was very excited to have the chance to play for the Patriots.

“My agent had spoken very highly of the organization,” Sweeney told me.

“They win every year, they have a great facility, Sparky’s the manager, and it was just a good situation to be successful in.  It was an easy choice for me to want to play there.”

Sweeney was looking forward to making the adjustment to facing American hitters again in the Atlantic League, including former Japanese teammates Jason Botts and Fernando Seguingol.  He initially went over to Japan after a 2006 season in the big leagues where he posted a 2-0 record with a 3.20 ERA and two saves in 37 games…much to his surprise, he was designated for assignment just four days after the Padres lost to the Cardinals in the playoffs, and subsequently received an offer from the Nippon Ham Fighters.

“People might think that’s an easy decision, but it’s not,” said Sweeney of leaving the country.

“Do I give up on my big league dream and head over to a place I have no idea about?  Or do I give it a try with my family?  I’m married with two kids, and who knows what Japan had in store.  But I believe I made the right decision.  The Fighters wanted me to come over, and three years later, I think it was a great experience for all of us.”

His return to the United States, he said, was a sign that he didn’t want his last experience in the big leagues to be his release by the Padres four seasons ago.

“As a kid, you grow up wanting to pitch in the big leagues, not Japan,” he told me.

“That’s my goal, I want to get back to the big leagues.  I’m excited for the opportunity to play in Somerset.”

Turns out, he didn’t need more than 48 hours in a Patriots uniform to get one step away from those big league dreams becoming a reality one more time.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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