10/16/2007 1:01 PM ET
Sweeney working on his swing in AFL
Desert Dogs outfielder trying to find one that is comfortable
White Sox prospect Ryan Sweeney, currently playing with the Desert Dogs of the Arizona Fall League chatted with fans Tuesday afternoon. The outfielder shared his views on playing in the Winter Leagues, hopes for his big-league career and the toughest pitcher he has faced.
Ryan Sweeney: Hi everyone, thanks for joining the chat today.
Q: Who inspired you to be an outfielder?
Sweeney: I always thought that I was going to be a pitcher, but the main person who inspired me growing up was Kenny Lofton because I was a Braves fan.
Q: When do you think you will be in the Major Leagues full time?
Sweeney: It's out of my control. I try to make the big leagues every year, but hopefully this next year I can be a full-time everyday player.
Q: Do you expect to be with the White Sox for your entire Major League career?
Sweeney: It would be awesome to be with the White Sox for my whole career because it's close to home and the fans are awesome there. But I think the main objective for any player that wants to play in the big leagues is to get to the big leagues.
Q: Do you see much of a difference in pitching from Triple-A to the AFL?
Sweeney: Big league pitchers have more of an idea of how to get you out and have a game plan, otherwise they wouldn't be there. But a lot of guys here -- they have a lot of talent and you're facing a new pitcher every inning, so it makes it kind of difficult to get in the swing of things. Plus, we're facing a lot of pitchers that we haven't faced in different leagues before.
Q: Are you working on anything specific during your time in Arizona?
Sweeney: Just working on trying to get a swing down that feels comfortable to me. It's important to put up good numbers down here, but I'm just trying to focus on getting my confidence back. I'm trying to show them that I can still go out and play, and just working on a swing where I can drive the ball and get into good hitter's counts.
Q: On the Desert Dogs, have you played with or against most of the players or is this a brand new group of people?
Sweeney: A lot of the guys I have played with or have heard of, and it's cool that I've played with guys like Trevor Plouffe when I was 16 years old in different tournaments. But we have a great group of guys and it's not that hard to get along with everybody.
Q: Hey, Ryan. Were you disappointed not to have improved your numbers in a second season at Triple-A?
Sweeney: Yes, I felt like I had a decent year my first year in Triple-A and would have liked to have repeated those numbers, if not even better. But sometimes things don't work out that way.
Q: What was it like being around Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, and other greats?
Sweeney: Actually in the locker room, my locker was right between Jim's and Paul's. They're just like normal guys and it's awesome to get any information that you can learn from them every day. They are the main ones that can teach you different stuff because they've been around the game for so long.
Q: If you had your choice, what number would you wear in the Major Leagues and why?
Sweeney: Well my big-league number is 31 and that is the number that I would pick because that was my number in high school and that number got retired there.
Q: What will your offseason workout schedule be like?
Sweeney: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I have a personal trainer that I work out with at Velocity Sports Performance. Then on Tuesdays and Thursdays I do my own workouts. I'll be hitting and doing other activities that involve baseball throughout the week.
Q: What's the first thing you did after you got word of the call-up to Chicago?
Sweeney: Actually my dad was in Charlotte at the time and I called him first. He didn't believe me. Then I called everyone in my family and told them. Then they all drove to Kansas City to come watch me play.
Q: Hi, Ryan. What do you enjoy the most about playing in the Arizona Fall League so far?
Sweeney: Probably just the laid-back lifestyle and getting to have fun playing with the guys. And just have fun playing baseball, no worries and no pressure on you.
Q: Whose the toughest pitcher you have faced?
Sweeney: By far, Mariano Rivera. He throws one pitch which is all cutters, which is still impossible to hit. You don't realize how good it is until you actually get in the box.
Q: What about pitching? Do you ever wonder where your career would have taken you if you had pitched?
Sweeney: Yes, I loved being a pitcher and I always thought I was going to be a pitcher. I would definitely like to play once every five days and golf all the time. But I definitely enjoy playing every day and being able to be in the lineup every night.
Q: Your prep numbers as a pitcher were filthy. Were you headed to San Diego State as a pitcher, a hitter or both?
Sweeney: They signed me to both pitch and play outfield.
Q: Ryan, do the AFL players comment on the low attendance at the games? From a fan's point of view there is not a better league to attend a game.
Sweeney: We just say how quiet it is because there's no one there other than the scouts. It's just a different atmosphere than playing during the regular season.
Q: What White Sox was like a mentor when you were first called up?
Sweeney: Konerko pretty much pulled me aside and told me if there's anything I needed to let him know. There are many little rules in the big leagues that people don't know about that you can definitely get in trouble or get fined if you don't know about them. He also helped me with different things in hitting, on how to approach pitchers.
Q: What is it like playing at US Cellular Field, particularly the last couple of years when the crowds have been livelier in wake of the World Series?
Sweeney: It's an awesome atmosphere. There's nothing like playing in front of Chicago fans and they're always behind you.
Sweeney: Time to head to batting practice. Thanks for joining me in the chat today. Have a great day!