Archive for Thursday, November 7, 2002

Sweeney named Royals player of year

First baseman tapped by writers after having second-highest batting average in team history

November 7, 2002

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— Kansas City Royals first baseman Mike Sweeney, who had the second-highest batting average in club history, was selected as the team's player of the year for 2002.

Sweeney, chosen by the Kansas City chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America, hit .340, the second-highest average in the American League. He also won the award for the 2000 season and becomes one of six players to be cited more than once and the first since Danny Tartabull, who won the honor in 1987 and 1991.

The Royals, however, lost a franchise record 100 games in 2002, making it a bittersweet season for Sweeney.

"Hands down it was my toughest year," Sweeney said Wednesday. "People may look at my numbers and say, 'He had a great year,' but what I went through losing 100 games and being hurt on and off through the year, playing through a lot of tough times, it was a really, really tough year.

"I'm hoping that's the last of it. I'm hoping we can turn the corner as an organization and really go from 100 losses to hopefully 100 wins. That's my goal."

Sweeney, 29, finished the season with 31 doubles, 24 home runs and 86 RBI in 126 games, while leading the Royals in slugging percentage (.563) and on-base percentage (.417). However, he missed a month with a lower back and hip strain.

"I know I probably would have had a better year if I hadn't been hurt," Sweeney said. "My dad is the stat guy. I haven't even looked at my stats for last season. After my honeymoon I'll dissect them."

Sweeney is to marry Shara Nettles, the daughter of former Royal Jim Nettles, on Saturday in Ontario, Calif. They will honeymoon in Fiji.

Cook, Banks file for free agency

New York Anaheim's Dennis Cook and Boston's Willie Banks filed for free agency Wednesday as Edgar Martinez tried to work out a new deal with Seattle. The Mariners had until the end of Wednesday to exercise a 2003 option on Martinez that called for a $10 million salary, with $7 million deferred without interest. If Seattle declined it, the team would be responsible for a $1 million buyout.

Francona named A's bench coach

Oakland, Calif. Former Philadelphia manager Terry Francona was picked as the Oakland Athletics' bench coach on Wednesday. Francona takes the job held for four seasons by Ken Macha, who became the Athletics' new manager last month after Art Howe left for the New York Mets. Francona spent last season as the bench coach in Texas.

Karsay to have back surgery

New York Yankees reliever Steve Karsay will have surgery Thursday to repair a herniated disc in his lower back. The 30-year-old right-hander was injured Aug. 30 while pitching in Toronto, Yankees spokesman Rick Cerrone said Wednesday.

Braves hire Nixon as coordinator

Atlanta The Atlanta Braves hired Otis Nixon as coordinator of baserunning and bunting on Wednesday. Nixon, who holds the Braves' single-season record for stolen bases with 72 in 1991, served as a special instructor in Atlanta's spring training camp last season and was a part-time instructor in the Braves' farm system during the regular season.

A-Rod marries longtime girlfriend

Dallas Texas Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriguez married longtime girlfriend Cynthia Scurtis last weekend, The Dallas Morning News reported in Wednesday editions. Rodriguez, 27, and Scurtis were married Saturday in a small ceremony in Dallas, the Rangers said.

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