October 25, 2014

Medina
Partly sunny
65°F

Indians notes: Swisher looks back on days in New York

CLEVELAND — Nick Swisher has fond memories of his time with the New York Yankees. He also has some painful ones.

Following a four-year tenure as the Bronx Bombers’ starting right fielder, Swisher was shown the door in New York, with the Yankees choosing not to offer the free agent a contract this offseason.

“It hurt,” said Swisher, who played in eight playoff series with the Yanks and was a member of the 2009 World Series championship team. “When you are in a place for four years, that’s a long time in baseball years. Sometimes when you leave, that’s not exactly what you want to do.

“When it boils down to it, they didn’t come to me. They didn’t even offer anything. As much as I loved that city and as hard as it was for me to leave. I had to do what was best for my family and for myself.”

Swisher, a former Ohio State standout, decided Cleveland was the best destination. He agreed to a four-year contract worth $56 million (vesting option for 2017) and has become the face of the franchise since.

“Obviously time moves on,” Swisher said. “Just to be part of this organization and what they’re doing, I could not be more excited. Just to be in this spot and to be here for the next five years, I could not be more happy about that. It gives me stability. I know where I’m going to be every single day. That’s a comfortable feeling.

“The way that Cleveland’s come in and approached the situation and just treated me like a king over here, I could not be more honored to be putting a uniform on for them every single day.”

Though Swisher made it clear to a New York reporter that he no longer plays for the Yankees, he will bring lessons from his time in the Big Apple, where he was surrounded by the likes of Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera — to name a few.

“All those guys taught me so many things,” Swisher said. “Everything I’ve learned from those guys, I’m doing my best, especially in the leadership role that I have, to take that knowledge that I’ve gained and pass it along as best I can

“I’m just trying to take everything I learned over there and bring it over here. Winning, that’s kind of the way things go over there. It’s a winning tradition. It’s a winning organization.”

Starting blocks

The Indians broke even on their six-game road trip to start the season, an acceptable result, considering they faced projected AL East contenders Toronto and Tampa Bay and beat both defending Cy Young award winners, R.A. Dickey (Blue Jays) and David Price (Rays).

“We’re six games in right now we’ve already faced two Cy Young award winners,” Swisher said prior to the home opener. “We’re feeling pretty good about where we are right now.”

Though Cleveland is expected to score runs in different ways, it was power that was on display, with the Indians clouting nine home runs on the trip. It conjured up memories of the 1995 club that hit their way past a number of their opponents.

“Don’t go there, because we’re not them,” manager Terry Francona said.

Wounded Wahoos

Lou Marson left Sunday’s game after home-plate collision with Tampa Bay’s Desmond Jennings, but Francona said the back-up catcher could have played in the home opener.

“He’s doing better,” Francona said. “His neck is stiff but he’s moving around a lot better.”

(bullet) Left-hander Scott Kazmir (right rib cage strain) played catch prior to Monday’s game. He is scheduled to leave the disabled list April 17.

Join the club

Francona said the Indians would activate Jason Giambi today, but that with the left-hander Pettitte on the mound for New York, the veteran would not be in the lineup.

Because the roster is at 24 players, Cleveland will not have to clear a spot for Giambi, who started the season on the disabled list with a lower back strain.

Return of the Pronk

Travis Hafner was in town for much of the offseason, still residing in Avon Lake before signing a free-agent contract with the Yankees, and keeping tabs on his former team’s busy winter.

“I think it was a little surprising, but they obviously had a great offseason with a lot of roster turnover,” said Hafner, who played in Cleveland from 2003-12. “I think it was important for them to do because they were really able to get a buzz going in the town again and generate some interest in the team. I think they made some good decisions.”

One of the Indians’ decisions was not to bring back their longtime designated hitter, who estimated that he lost 15 pounds during spring training.

“I spoke with (Cleveland general manager) Chris (Antonetti) a few times over the offseason,” said Hafner, who ranks eighth on the Indians’ all-time home run list with 200. “I think there was just so much roster turnover. Not every roster can have a fulltime DH. There was some interest on both sides, but not exactly sure how it would play out, if there would be space or whatever. And then the opportunity with the Yankees came up.”

Roundin’ third

  • The Indians entered own an all-time 58-55 record in home openers, including a 10-10 mark at Jacobs/Progressive Field. They have lost five straight.
  • Carlos Santana celebrated his 27th birthday Monday.
  • Tonight, 7:05, STO/WTAM 1100-AM. Carrasco (first start) vs. Pettitte (1-0, 1.13).

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.