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Sweeney honored by Athletics

Sweeney honored by Athletics

OAKLAND -- First baseman Mike Sweeney, who was released by the A's on Tuesday, was named the recipient of the 2008 Jim "Catfish" Hunter Award, which honors an A's player whose play on the field and conduct in the clubhouse best exemplifies the courageous, competitive and inspirational spirit demonstrated by the late Hall of Fame pitcher.

Sweeney, who was hampered by injuries for most of the season, hit .286 with two homers and 12 RBIs in 42 games. A five-time All-Star, Sweeney made a name with the Kansas City Royals, where he played 13 seasons before signing with the A's prior to this season.

The 35-year-old is a .299 lifetime hitter with 199 homers and 849 RBIs in 1,324 games over 14 seasons in the Majors. Despite a shortened year with the A's, Sweeney was honored with the award, voted on by Oakland's players and coaches.

"I'm honored to receive this award, especially since it was voted upon by my teammates and the coaching staff," said Sweeney. "[Former Royals manager] Buddy Bell, one of the finest people I've ever met, once told me that 'the greatest thing you can do in this game is be a good teammate.' I've had a lot of injury problems this year, but I always tried to keep that in mind. You may have statistics on the back of your baseball card, but when you try to be a good teammate, that's from the heart and will last forever.

"So, I'm excited and humbled to receive this award, and I also want to thank [general manager] Billy [Beane] and [manager] Bob [Geren] for giving me the opportunity to be an Oakland Athletic this year."

A native of Hertford, N.C., Hunter posted a 224-166 record to go along with a 3.26 ERA in his 15-year Major League career. Hunter earned five World Series rings, and he was 4-0 with one save in seven World Series appearances with the A's and Yankees.

Catfish, who holds Oakland's career mark for wins (131) and won 20 or more games in five consecutive seasons, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease) in September 1998 and died on Sept. 9, 1999, at the age of 53.

Previous winners of the award include Tim Hudson (2004), Mark Ellis (2005, 2007) and Jason Kendall (2006).

Jayson Addcox is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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