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.