Sweeney debating next step in his career

Sweeney debating next step in his career

KANSAS CITY -- Mike Sweeney began his 16-year big league career with the Royals, and now he's debating whether or not it's time to step out as a player.

"I told my agents that by next Sunday I'm going to make a decision on whether or not to play," Sweeney said. "There are opportunities out there, and it's just a matter of [where] my heart is."

Sweeney was back in Kansas City on Saturday to present an award in his name to Minor League pitcher Buddy Baumann for being a good guy off the field, as well as on it.

Last season, Sweeney got to the playoffs for the first time in his career with Philadelphia and, in his only at-bat against Cincinnati, he singled off flame-throwing Aroldis Chapman. Up in the stands, his long-time agent Seth Levinson, who had recently lost his mother, was sitting with Sweeney's parents and wife, Shara.

"When I got the base hit against Chapman, he's up there with my mom, my dad and my wife. The four of them are tearing up and hugging each other, and Seth, for the first time in three weeks since the death of his mother, had a chance to smile," Sweeney said.

If Sweeney decides to retire, that would be his last at-bat.

"If I could script a perfect ending for my career, that'd probably be it. Well, maybe going to the World Series and winning a ring," he said. "But, considering there are no guarantees in baseball, this is the only time in my career I can say I can possibly go out on my terms -- and that's what I'm praying about. So I'm going to give it another week, two more Sundays at Mass."

There's currently interest by three teams, but Sweeney has one strong restriction.

"I made it clear to my agents that the only way I'm going to play this year is if a contending team offered me a guaranteed deal -- and I told them the chance of that happening is next to none," he said. "But that's the criteria I set for them."

Non-playing offers have come in: a big league coaching job, managing in the Minors, broadcasting opportunities, front-office jobs.

"But right now, I need to figure out if I'm going to play or not. If I decide not to play, I'll look into the other things," Sweeney said.