Dodgers being patient with Sweeney
Torre believes veteran has value despite early struggles
LOS ANGELES -- Mark Sweeney has made a career out of pitch-hitting, as only Lenny Harris has recorded more pinch hits in his career in MLB history, but this year he has struggled.The 38-year-old left-handed hitter, who was batting a frustrating .107 entering Saturday, hasn't found the groove the Dodgers were expecting when they acquired him from the Giants for Travis Denker in the offseason.
"The thing about players when they get older, it's a series of adjustments," said Dodgers manager Joe Torre. "I think that's what Mark is going through right now. Right now, I think he's pressing a little bit, and it's tough because you don't play. You're waiting for that one at-bat, [and] you're never going to throw him up there in an at-bat when it doesn't mean something."Still, Torre feels Sweeney has something left based on watching his body language and demeanor on the field, saying the hitter does all the right things, prepares as if he were in a game during batting practice and takes care of his body the way he needs to. "He's certainly aware of his age, he's certainly aware of eventually this thing's going to be over, but I don't sense that he's there yet," Torre said. Torre added Sweeney still has a "great swing path," he just needs to lock in on the ball and get his "feel" back at the plate, which is not easy for a player used primarily as a pinch-hitter. The Dodgers' organization is always looking for improvements, but Torre said it hasn't gotten to that point with Sweeney where Los Angeles feels it could find an upgrade over him at Triple-A or through a player available in a trade. "There's nobody that jumps out at us to say it's a surefire thing," Torre said. "Could somebody else be better? Yeah, possibly. But in order to make a decision on a guy like Sweeney you're certainly not going to take a chance and say, 'We think.' You want to know that it's a better option for you."
Michael Schwartz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.