August 30 Philadelphia Daily News
In yesterday’s 5-0 win over the Padres, the five-time All-Star hit his first home run with his new team, lining a two-run shot off Padres lefty Clayton Richard to give the Phillies a 3-0 lead in the seventh inning.
The home run touched off the type of emotional outpouring that has come to define the 16-year veteran. After willing the ball over the leftfield wall, Sweeney had heartfelt dugout hugs with everybody from Jimmy Rollins to bench coach Pete Mackanin.
“He is definitely one of a kind,” said Rollins, who went 5-for-13 with two runs and one RBI in the Phillies’ three-game sweep of the Padres. “He gave me a hug after the home run. Usually, it’s you trying to initiate the hug. I was giving him a handshake, and he was like, ‘Give me a hug.’ All right, Sweeney.”
Sweeney, acquired shortly after Ryan Howard went on the disabled list with a sprained ankle on Aug. 3, was in the lineup in part to give the struggling slugger a day off. In seven starts since returning from the DL, Howard is just 3-for-32 (.094) with 16 strikeouts, one walk, and no extra-base hits. Including the final four games he played before spraining his ankle against the Nationals on Aug. 1, Howard is 4-for-46 (.087) with 24 strikeouts, two walks and no extra-base hits.
It doesn’t get easier for Howard when the Phillies open a three-game series at Dodger Stadium tonight. In his career against righty Hiroki Kuroda and lefty Clayton Kershaw, who are scheduled to start tonight and Wednesday, he is a combined 1-for-16 (.063) with seven strikeouts. Righty Carlos Monasterios, a 24-year-old who spent 4 years in the Phillies system before the Dodgers selected him in the Rule 5 draft in December, will start the second game of the series.
“I kind of wanted to just give him a break,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “He hit the ball pretty good [Saturday], although he didn’t get any hits. He’s scuffling to get his timing. And we’re getting ready to go play the Dodgers and we played a day game today and I kind of wanted to get him a day off here. They’ve got two righties and they’ve got Kershaw. I wanted to put him back on a righty, try to get his swing good.”
The presence of the righthanded-hitting Sweeney provides the luxury to do so, especially with lefthanded-hitting backup first baseman Ross Gload on the disabled list. In a 3-1 win over the Padres on Saturday, the energetic veteran beat out a potential doubleplay ball that scored an insurance run. Since joining the Phillies, Sweeney is 10-for-42 (.238) with six RBI, four walks and seven runs.
“I’m just embracing being here as a new member of the Phillies,” said Sweeney, 37, who has never appeared in the postseason. “Any time I can go out there and play, whether it be a pinch-hit or giving big Ryan a day off, I want to do everything I can to help this team win. I’m thankful I was able to do it today.””
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