Sweeney selected to fifth All-Star Game
Royals captain last chosen to AL team during 2003 season
KANSAS CITY -- Royals first baseman Mike Sweeney is an All-Star for the fifth time.
Sweeney was named Sunday to the American League All-Star squad as Kansas City's only representative for the July 12 game.
He also was named an All-Star reserve for four straight years, 2000-03.
Sweeney matches Amos Otis and Frank White for the second-most All-Star selections in franchise history with five. George Brett was a 13-time All-Star.
"I got the call this morning from [team travel director] Jeff Davenport and he said, 'George Brett.' I said, 'What do you mean? George Brett?' He said, 'Number 5, George Brett. It's your fifth one, you're going to the All-Star Game,'" Sweeney said.
"George Brett is Kansas City baseball and, obviously, I want to follow in his footsteps. And to go to my fifth All-Star Game is an honor and a thrill."
The All-Star Game, to be held at Detroit's Comerica Park on Tuesday, July 12 at 7 p.m. CT, will be televised nationally by FOX and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive, national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage and MLB Radio will provide exclusive play-by-play coverage of the game on the Internet.
Batting .299, Sweeney led the Royals with nine home runs and 19 doubles and was tied with right fielder Emil Brown for the club lead with 37 RBIs before Sunday night's game.
"He's the best player on this team," infielder Tony Graffanino said. "I know he's been hurt and missed some time over the course of the season but he probably has just about the best numbers of anybody on the team anyway. But if you take away stats and look just at one guy who should be an All-Star, it would be him."
In each of his first three All-Star Games, at Atlanta, Seattle and Milwaukee, Sweeney had one at-bat without a hit. In 2003, at Chicago, he sat out because of a back injury. So he'd like to break through with an All-Star hit.
"I've faced some pretty good pitchers in the past and I'm sure I'll face another one in Detroit but I'd like to get on the board," he said. "I want to go out there and try to make a splash. Try to do something great on the field to put Kansas City back on the map."
Getting hits has never been much of a problem for Sweeney, except when he's battled injuries. A rigorous offseason program last winter seemed to cure the back problems he had the previous two seasons. This year, however, he missed 10 games because of a rib-cage strain and 13 more while on the disabled list with left-arm injuries suffered in a baseline collision.
Yet, in 56 games, he still had 66 hits.
"He's definitely the captain of our team," center fielder David DeJesus said, "and when he was in the lineup, he was a force. He drove in the runs when we needed them so he's definitely deserving of the honor and I hope he has fun there and does well."
Sweeney had his biggest season in 2000 when he batted .333 with 29 homers and 144 RBIs. A popular figure in Kansas City, he is under contract through 2007.
"I think it's a matter of Mike's track record and he's got some good numbers even though he's been hurt the last month," manager Buddy Bell said.
Brown, a longtime Minor Leaguer, has had a storybook season, emerging as a .293 hitter with eight homers, 16 doubles, 37 RBIs and a team-leading 41 runs. Those numbers surely made him a viable choice, too.
"I haven't really thought about it," Brown said. "Maybe next time I'll have better numbers. ... He's a good player. He's deserving."
Sweeney was named to the team by AL manager Terry Francona of the Boston Red Sox. In balloting by fans, Sweeney finished seventh among AL first baseman with 510,385 votes
"Every year it's a little different honor," said Bell, also a five-time AL All-Star. "Every year you go there, you're with some new All-Stars and that's what I enjoyed about it most. Seeing guys that are there for the first time, really sucking all of it up and talking to some of the older guys."
Sweeney has his own special memory from his first All-Star Game in Atlanta.
"At the time my little sister, Tara, was 7 years old and I got to take her on the field with me for the national anthem," he said, "and I'll never forget the feeling of holding her in my arms and seeing the F-16 fighter jets flying overhead and thinking, 'Man, this is something special.'"
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.