Notes: Sweeney thinking Big Apple
Reliever looking forward to pitching in home state in August
By Sandy Burgin / Special to MLB.com
Right-hander Brian Sweeney is establishing himself in the Padres' bullpen after pitching in 270 Minor League games. (Elaine Thompson/AP)
SAN DIEGO -- Padres right-hander Brian Sweeney has Aug. 8-10 circled on his calendar.
That's the next time the Padres and Mets will face off, at Shea Stadium, where Sweeney is hopeful of fulfilling a life-long dream of playing Major League Baseball in his home state.
The Yonkers, N.Y., native has been one of the early-season surprises for the Padres. On Friday night, the 31-year-old right-hander hurled three scoreless innings of relief, allowing just one hit while picking up his first victory of the season.
"There's a guy who has done a great job," said Padres manager Bruce Bochy. "He logged so many innings in the Minor Leagues and never lost sight of his dream.
"He won a job on the club this spring and he's taking advantage of the opportunity. When you've been down in the Minors and logged so many innings and thrown as many pitches as he has, he's going to learn how to pitch, and Brian Sweeney knows how to pitch."
Sweeney, who was originally acquired by the Padres in a trade with the Mariners in 2004 and signed last year as a Minor League free agent, has pitched at the Triple-A level in each of the last four seasons as a starter and reliever. He had a record of 38-28 with a 3.97 ERA in that span.
In his first trip to the Majors with the Mariners in 2003, Sweeney went 0-0 with a 1.93 ERA in five relief appearances.
Sweeney appeared in seven games over three separate callups for the Padres in 2004, he went 1-0 with a 5.65 ERA and outdueled Randy Johnson in Arizona on June 29, 2004, in his first Major League start.
Sweeney pitched in 270 Minor League games, starting 138 of them, and logged 1,064 innings with a career record of 71-47 and a 3.97 ERA.
Sweeney sees his role this time around with the Padres as more of a swing man.
"I'm here to soak up the innings so the big boys can stay healthy," said Sweeney. "The back end of our bullpen is set ... they're going to take care of business. And when there are innings that need to be taken care of, I will happily jump in there and do my job.
"If someone gets hurt, I get to start, and say I got four or five innings, then two days later I'm back in the bullpen, trying to help the team there."
Sweeney showed his mettle on Friday with his three-inning stint, and said the next day, "I'm ready to go if they need me."
Growing up in Yonkers, Sweeney said he was a Yankees fan.
"My dad was a huge Yankee fan," Sweeney said. "We went to the Bronx to watch the games and we also followed the Mets as well, but never really were Mets fans.
"One of the guys I grew up watching was [current Mets manager] Willie Randolph, and it's been great seeing him over there in the other duggout. I was running outside on Friday and I saw him and he was doing his running and he's got that same trot I remember as a kid when watching in the stands. It's pretty cool seeing him now."
And it's been pretty cool for Sweeney being back in the Majors.
Asked about playing against the Mets in New York in the summer, Sweeney said, "that's going to be something else.
"I haven't played in the Majors in New York yet, but that would be a dream come true. You always want to play in your home state, and I am looking forward to it."