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Sweeney all smiles this season
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04/01/2004  9:37 PM ET
Sweeney all smiles this season
Led Royals in HR, RBI during Spring Training
Mike Sweeney led the Royals in RBIs and home runs this spring. (Rick Bowmer/AP)
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- This was Mike Sweeney's spring:

He's laughing about Royals teammate Angel Berroa's attempts to connect with balls thrown by Olympic softball pitcher Jennie Finch, assisting with the taping of a bit for "This Week in Baseball."

While swinging at about seven of Finch's zooming, rising, dipping pitches, Berroa managed only one foul tip.

"That was funny," Sweeney said. "Angel can turn around a 95 mph fastball like nothing, but he couldn't hit off a girl. So I know all those girls out there now are saying, 'Girl Power!' "

This was Mike Sweeney's spring:

He's speaking to 1,000 kids in LifeTeen, a Catholic charismatic program, before a game at sun-splashed Surprise Stadium. The kids all had tickets to that day's game, courtesy of Sweeney.

"We had a thousand teenage kids and some of their parents and youth ministers on the outfield berm, just singing out to God on a Sunday morning," he said.

    Mike Sweeney   /   1B
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 225
Bats/Throws: R/R

More info:
Player page
Stats
Splits
Hit chart
Royals site

"When I sign an autograph, I always leave a scripture verse. And my hope is that they'll look up that scripture verse and they'll remember that rather than just an autographed ball by me."

This was Mike Sweeney's spring:

He's rhapsodizing about the wonders of parenthood after his wife, Shara, gave birth to Michael James Sweeney on March 6.

"I never thought I'd be so happy to wake up at 3 in the morning," Sweeney said with a sleepy smile.

"It's just awesome waking up, whether it's 3 or 5 in the morning, and feeling my little boy cuddling up next to me. There's no better thing in the world. Actually, one better thing would be my wife cuddling on one side and my baby on the other."

This was Mike Sweeney's spring:

He's facing Padres left-hander Sterling Hitchcock, then smokes a line drive -- one that couldn't have risen more than 10 feet -- over the left-field wall at Peoria.

"I drove the ball well. I've been working a lot with [hitting coach Jeff] Pentland in the cage and just trying to keep my swing compact but yet powerful," he said. "And I feel like I've done it this spring.

"So as we get ready for Opening Day in a few days, I'm healthy, I'm excited, the fire's burning bright and there's a lot of gas in the tank."

Yes, it was the Sweeney of old who was swinging the bat in Spring Training. Pentland couldn't be happier. After coming back from a neck/back nerve irritation last Aug. 8, Sweeney didn't seem quite the same.


"It was definitely the most memorable spring of my life."
-- Mike Sweeney

"The life's coming back to his bat. It died for a while," Pentland said. "The last couple of weeks the ball's coming off his bat like before he got hurt.

"The ball just wasn't as crisp off the bat. He was functional, but it wasn't the same Sweeney. Now he's got his pop back."

As the Royals closed down their Arizona camp Thursday, Sweeney was leading the club in homers (five) and RBIs (17) while batting .277.

But don't tell him that.

"I hate stats, I hate 'em," he said, laughing as he buried his face in his hands. "They're like Kryptonite to me."

Sweeney left Arizona in a beautiful frame of mind.

"It was definitely the most memorable spring of my life," Sweeney said.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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