MARION — In the middle of doing an interview with a local television station last week at Hunters Ridge Golf Course, Ryan Sweeney‘s cell phone rang. It was his surgeon in Colorado.
Count how many things are wrong with those sentences.
The Oakland Athletics outfielder is in town during the baseball season, for one. He’s talking to a surgeon, for two.
Add to that he’s on crutches and wearing a huge brace on his right leg, and it’s not good.
“My parents have the MLB package (on TV), so I try to watch our games as much as possible,” Sweeney said. ”I’m always texting the guys, and they’re texting me to see how I’m doing. It is different being home right now. I haven’t been home during the summer for probably eight or nine years.”
This isn’t by choice, of course. The Cedar Rapids resident had surgery on his right knee for patella tendinitis in late July.
It brought a premature end to a good season for the 25-year-old former Xavier prep. He was leading Oakland in hitting (.294), further establishing himself as a major league regular.
“The goal is to basically be ready by spring training,” said Sweeney, who was making an appearance to benefit the Cedar Valley Humane Society. “I have to be in this (brace) for eight weeks, and this is the sixth week. Rehab is going well. Hopefully it keeps going good and I keep progressing toward next year. That’s the bottom line.”
Sweeney said he’s had issues with his knees since he was a kid, he thinks from growing too rapidly. He said he’s been playing in considerable pain for about a season and a half, and it finally became too much.
The injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for Sweeney from a financial standpoint. He is eligible for salary arbitration at the end of the season for the first time and was looking at a considerable raise from the $420,000 he is making this season.
“I’ve had talks with my agent about that,” he said. “It’s obviously a situation that happened, but I think I’ve put up three pretty decent years. They know what kind of player I am, and hopefully I’m going to come back even stronger from it. Hopefully my knees will be a lot better, and I’ll be that much better of a player because I won’t have to play in pain.”
But right now, it’s all about rehabilitation. He is seeing a physical therapist in Cedar Rapids, where he has a home with his wife of less than a year, Natasha.
He’s looking forward to working out all winter with his younger brother, Kellen, a second-round draft pick this summer of the Toronto Blue Jays who just completed his season in the Gulf Coast League.
“With us being seven years apart, I didn’t ever really get to watch him much growing up,” Ryan said. “I think maybe I came home one time over the all-star break and got to watch him play, as well as in the fall a little bit.
“I’m looking forward to working out with him in the off-season for the first time.”