From the Pages of Vine Line: Q&A with Ryan Sweeney
(Photo by Stephen Green)
The 2013 season marked Ryan Sweeney’s second stint as a major leaguer in Chicago. Originally drafted by the White Sox in 2003, the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native spent two seasons on the South Side before being traded to Oakland and then Boston. Prior to last year, Sweeney was signed by the Cubs, where he enjoyed a successful, though injury-riddled, campaign. The following can be found in the December issue of Vine Line.
MOVING UP I started off in Triple-A. I had to go there for a few weeks and then come up here. But I loved it. Obviously [the Cubs] gave me an opportunity to play every day. Being from the Midwest and being able to play in Chicago, I’m excited to be here.
BACK HOME People always ask [if it was fun to play close to home with Triple-A Iowa]. It was fun, but that wasn’t my goal to go play for the Iowa Cubs. I knew I had to go there to get some at-bats before I came up, because I got nontendered so late by the Red Sox. I mean, it was cool, but it was snowing and cold the first couple of weeks, so it wasn’t really that great of an experience.
INJURY BUG It always seems like when you’re doing good, that’s when the injury comes. It’s never when you’re doing terrible. It was definitely frustrating to be hitting decently well and [then to fracture my rib in June]—and to be playing every day at the time when I had the injury. I just looked at it as, “When I come back, I have to finish strong and show them that I can still play every day against lefties and righties.”
TV TIES [Growing up] I was a Braves fan because of TBS, but my grandparents are huge Cubs fans. They watch the Cubs every single day. When I got drafted by the White Sox, they were like, “All right, well, we’ll root for you.” But now that I’m over here, they love it. They can just watch it on WGN every day.
GOOD DIRECTION I felt like this was the right fit. I like the direction the organization is headed as far as getting young. I’m still fairly young for being a guy that has some time in. I just thought it would be a good opportunity, and playing here at Wrigley Field—there are worse places to play.
FENWAY VS. WRIGLEY They’re both different. Being a part of the 100-year anniversary of Boston [in 2012], and then next year’s going to be the 100-year anniversary here, will be pretty cool. I like both places. They’re both great atmospheres to play in, and the fans are great.
SWING CHANGE I went and hit with Rod Carew for a couple of weeks this last offseason and just learned some stuff from him, and [there were] some different keys I took away from it. I struggled a little bit with it in Spring Training. I was doing great hitting off the tee and flips and everything, but once you get into the game, transferring it over [can be difficult]. I feel like once I started the regular season, I was kind of where I wanted to be with my swing, not changing much throughout the entire year and just staying consistent.
OFF THE FIELD I basically just play golf. I don’t golf much around here. I played at Cog Hill [a few months ago]. I’ve got a buddy that’s a part of a country club around here, so I play out there every once in a while. But I’ll probably golf a little more once I’m here a little bit more.