Just like his Bats players, Sweet wants shot at Show
Louisville boss could be an asset in majors
February 11, 2009
Rick Sweet is perfectly happy as the manager of the Louisville Bats.
But everyone wants to be in the big leagues.
Coming off the best season in franchise history and his second Manager of the Year award in a Triple-A league, Sweet is no doubt a hot commodity for a job in the majors. He wants that chance, and he doesn't care who knows it. After all, players need ambitious role models.
"I think it's important that my players know I have that goal," he said yesterday at the Bats' pre-spring news conference. "The last thing you want from me is somebody that's just stagnant, that's content with where they're at. I'm looking to better myself all the time."
Sweet was the Seattle Mariners' bullpen coach in 1984 and the Houston Astros' first-base coach in 1996. He's spent most of his pro coaching career as a minor league manager, including being named Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year with Tucson in 1994. That earned him the No. 3 ranking on Baseball America's now-defunct list of managerial prospects in the minors.
Last year Sweet was named the International League's best skipper, leading the Bats to an 88-56 mark -- a franchise record for wins and tied for the best in the IL -- before they lost in the first round of the playoffs to Durham.
His contract doesn't allow him to look for other jobs, but that doesn't mean he's not on the big league radar.
"If I were a major league general manager, he would certainly be on my list," said Terry Reynolds, director of player development for the Cincinnati Reds, the Bats' parent team.
Reynolds said he most appreciates Sweet's interaction with players and staff. His 20 minor league seasons as manager don't hurt, either.
"That experience is priceless," Reynolds said.
Despite his aspirations to move up, this will be Sweet's fifth season in Louisville, his longest stint anywhere as a pro player or coach. The Washington native listed Rocky's Italian Grill in Jeffersonville as one of his favorite restaurants and said he's becoming attached to the area.
"Who knows?" he said. "I may end up living here one day."
-- Rick Newkirk