01/22/11 6:50 PM EST
Sweeney debating next step in his career
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
"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.
Soria draws comparisons to Rivera
KANSAS CITY -- During the Royals Awards Show, pitcher of the year Joakim Soria was given a nod as the heir apparent to Yankees closer Mariano Rivera. Soria is a big Rivera fan, but he wasn't so sure about that designation.
"Those are big shoes for fill," Soria said. "This guy's amazing -- and as a person, too. I don't try to be like him. I have my own style to throw. I just go there and get it done. But if people see me like him, well, that's fine."
Soria, who lives in Mexico, came to the snow-covered FanFest site by himself.
"My wife and daughter can't be here today," he told the crowd. "It's too cold for them."
Yost hails Butler in award presentation
KANSAS CITY -- Royals manager Ned Yost presented the Player of the Year Award to Billy Butler and noted how, as manager, he's come to appreciate the Royals' first baseman-designated hitter.
"I had no idea how special an offensive performer this young man was," Yost said. "This kid lives, breathes, drinks, [and] sleeps hitting. He's as prepared an offensive performer as any player that I've been around. He's got as good a two-strike approach as any player that I've seen -- and he's a very talented, special young player who's going to be with us when we're very, very successful in the years to come."
Butler said before Saturday's event that he and the Royals had agreed on a four-year, $30-million contract extension.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.