Baseball / Sports

Nick Swisher seems destined for outfield in 2015

NEW YORK -- Nick Swisher admitted he didn't know who was the bigger kid as he watched his wife, JoAnna Garcia, carry their 1-year-old daughter, Emme, into FAO Schwarz on Friday.

The Indians designated hitter/outfielder was pushing the stroller, but he made sure he looked at Emme's face when the doors to the massive toy store opened.

"It was just like she landed in heaven," Swisher said.

The Swishers headed immediately to the Sesame Street section, where they bought Emme an Elmo doll and a Cookie Monster. They spent the day in the city where Swisher played with the Yankees for four years and Swisher returned to the team hotel energized.

"I absolutely love this place," Swisher said. "This will be a good trip for me."

Swisher needed it. He started in right field Friday night as the Indians opened a three-game series in Yankee Stadium. That came after a defensively challenged two games in left field Wednesday and Thursday when the Indians faced the Cincinnati Reds.

Swisher entered the Saturday's game batting .207, but that wasn't his only worry. With Carlos Santana impressing General Manager Chris Antonetti and manager Terry Francona at first base, Swisher has no regular position except for designated hitter. He's also battling problems with both knees that landed him on the 15-day disabled list in late May.

"It's been a frustrating year," Swisher said. "I've been banged up a lot and trying to fight through it. You want to go out there because you want to be with your guys and a lot of things have been affected by that."

If Swisher can survive the rest of the season, Antonetti may have an answer for where he belongs. Antonetti hinted that Swisher is destined for the outfield in 2015.

"The plan coming into this year was for Nick to play a lot of first base," Antonetti said. "So he prepared in the offseason and in spring training to do that and not play a lot in the outfield. Going into next year, the plan could be different. Giving him that heads up, allowing him in the offseason to go and prepare to be an outfielder, come into camp, get reps in the outfield, that will prepare him better for the season."

Antonetti said he's "gotten no indication" that Swisher's knees need surgery.

The Indians likely will have Swisher's services for three more years because the four-year, $56 million contract he signed in January 2013 includes a $14 million option for a fifth year that will easily vest.

Last year, Swisher battled shoulder problems, but got hot in the Indians' last 22 games and helped the Tribe reach the American League Wild Card Game.

"This season hasn't unfolded for him individually the way we had all hoped, but there are a lot of players who have those years in their career," Antonetti said. "The important thing will be to finish the season strong and get to the offseason and do everything he can to prepare and come into next season and put this year behind him."

To do that, Swisher needed to stroll the aisles of FAO Schwarz, helping Emme pick out a Lambie from Doc McStuffins.

"Our buddy, it's his son's second birthday, we got him a bunch of stuff. We were spoiling everybody today," Swisher said. "To see your daughter get excited over an Elmo doll takes a little bit of the pressure off."

(c)2014 Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

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