MIAMI – Looking for some offense and depth at first base while Ryan Howard recuperates from a sprained left ankle, the Phillies have decided to take a chance on Mike Sweeney. The team acquired the veteran first baseman from the Seattle Mariners for a player to be named or cash on Wednesday.
Manager Charlie Manuel said he expected Sweeney to start at first base Thursday night against the Marlins. Sweeney will be assigned No. 5, last worn by Pat Burrell.
“He knows how to hit and he’s got some power,” Manuel said of Sweeney.
To make room for Sweeney on the active roster, the Phils could return John Mayberry Jr. to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He joined the Phils for Wednesday night’s game.
The Phillies hope that Howard will return on Aug. 17 or shortly thereafter. When Howard returns, Sweeney is expected to fill a reserve role for a club that his short on right-handed bats.
“He can help us right now and off the bench later,” Manuel said.
As hitting coach and manager of the Cleveland Indians a decade ago, Manuel witnessed Sweeney’s best years in the American League. Sweeney made five AL All-Star teams for the Kansas City Royals and had six seasons in which he hit 20 or more homers. He had three seasons with 99 or more RBIs, including 2000, when he finished second in the AL with 144. In 2002, Sweeney finished second in hitting in the AL at .340.
Now 37, Sweeney hasn’t come close to putting up those numbers in recent seasons and has played only sparingly at first base – just 25 starts at the position since the end of 2005.
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