July 29, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA; Boston Red Sox right fielder Ryan Sweeney (12) doubles to deep left allowing two runners to score during the second inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Can Ryan Sweeney Become Boston's Nick Swisher?

After the Red Sox non-tendered Ryan Sweeney everyone, including Sweeney, figured that was it for him in Boston. Then another Ryan – Kalish – went down with a torn labrum in his right, non-throwing shoulder, upsetting the balance in Boston’s outfield. GM Ben Cherington called Sweeney and offered him a deal worth $1.25 million plus incentives. Sweeney jumped on it.

Sweeney told MLB.com “…when I talked to [general manager Ben Cherington], he talked to my agent, too, he said, ‘We still have interest in Ryan.’ So I had actually been talking to the Red Sox for a while and Ben and just kind of needed to make a decision, and then I didn’t even realize that Kalish needed surgery.”

During the conversation, Sweeney made an offer to Cherington: try me at first base. Sweeney told MLB.com, “He didn’t really say what he expected of me, he just said I have a good shot at making the team and begin able to play different positions,” Sweeney said. “He said something before talking about maybe needing a first baseman. Not to me. … I had talked to Ben on the phone, I was like, ‘Hey, Ben, do you need me to go get a first baseman’s glove?’ And he just kind of laughed.

As far fetched as it may sound – Sweeney has never played first at the major league level – there may be an opportunity to convert him to a more Nick Swisher-like OF, 1B player.

His large frame makes him a natural with the notable exception of his Achilles heel – a distinct lack of any real power hitting ability during his career in the bigs. In his six years in the majors Sweeney has hit a total of just 14 homers.

If new Red Sox hitting coach Greg Colbrunn can channel the 6’4″, 220-pound Sweeney’s inner power, he could become a valuable commodity in the Red Sox lineup. Sweeney could spell starting first baseman Mike Napoli when needed and also provide a left-handed option in the lineup.

Tags: Boston Red Sox Ryan Sweeney

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