It's no secret that veterans Mike Sweeney and Kelvim Escobar are nearing the end of their major league careers, but as both of these players discussed on Wednesday, their last days in the majors might have already occurred.
FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi reports that Sweeney will retire if he isn't on a major league roster by opening day. The 15-year veteran signed a minor league deal with Seattle last month but told Morosi that he has no interest in going back to the minors or in taking a coaching job. If Sweeney doesn't make the Mariners, he would try to catch on with another club and "would give priority to West Coast teams" so he could be closer to his family in San Diego.
The injury-plagued Sweeney hasn't had more than 289 plate appearances in a season since 2005, but could still provide a team with a solid pinch-hitting option. Sweeney hit .340/.377/.434 in 114 plate appearances against right-handers last season, and over his career has had success against both lefties and righties (.864 career OPS vs. RHP, .827 OPS vs. LHP). Looking just at west coast options, the Angels could be in need of a right-handed compliment at DH if Hideki Matsui needs a day off.
Escobar, meanwhile, may have his career ended not by lack of opportunity, but by injury. David Waldstein of the New York Times reports that Escobar has been bothered by shoulder pain following a four-week break from pitching after his stint in the Venezuelan winter league. Such an injury is of particular concern to Escobar given that he has pitched just five major league innings since 2007 due to a number of shoulder problems and labrum surgery in July 2008. Waldstein says that Escobar will get an MRI if the pain continues, and the right-hander is willing to undergo one more surgical procedure if doctors give him a decent chance of pitching again. If not, then Escobar said he will call it a career after 12 seasons in the bigs.
Escobar signed a $1.5MM contract with the Mets in December, so it wouldn't be a major financial blow to the club if Escobar couldn't pitch. It would, however, further weaken the already-thin New York bullpen and it certainly wouldn't look good on the Mets given the team's myriad of injuries last season.