GOODYEAR, ARIZ.: When the Indians are trying to make a deal or sign a free agent, secrecy is one of the priorities. But General Manager Chris Antonetti doesn’t keep everyone out of the loop.
Mostly, it’s the media that the front office tries to keep in the dark. Nick Swisher is not a member of the media. So when Antonetti was negotiating with Michael Bourn’s agent, Scott Boras, and asking for additional funds from owner Paul Dolan, Swisher was kept informed.
“I know what’s going on,” Swisher said Sunday. “I know more than you.”
Speaking of the Bourn signing, Swisher said, “That’s what we wanted to do (keep it quiet). We didn’t want our name flashing around everywhere. The whole Mike thing, we had some stuff we knew. We had some meetings about it.”
The “we” Swisher refers to is himself.
“Bringing a guy of his caliber over here, especially after signing a big contract with me and then suddenly turning around and giving almost the same contract to Mike (was huge). Me and Mike were super excited. Every single pitcher on this team is going to love him.”
Swisher spent two days in Columbus to attend the funeral of his mother, Lillian Marie Malizia, who suffered from leukemia.
“It was nice to go back and see my brother, my stepbrothers and stepsister and everybody,” said Swisher, who returned to Arizona in time to take part in Sunday’s workout. “I hadn’t seen my brother for a while. He’s taking it pretty hard. He told me I needed to get back out here.”
As Swisher participated in a drill on one of the back fields, manager Terry Francona watched.
“There’s a little different vibe when he’s around,” Francona said. “And I mean that in a very positive way.”
Swisher has been an Indian less than two months and already has changed positions. Or has he?
When he signed on Jan. 3, Antonetti said that Swisher would play right field. After Bourn was signed, the outfield was totally rearranged, with Michael Brantley in left, Bourn in center and Drew Stubbs in right. That pushed Swisher to first base.
Was he surprised? Since he knew that negotiations with Bourn were taking place, he certainly knew he was headed to the infield. And that’s fine with him.
With career center fielders manning each spot, the Tribe probably has the fastest outfield in the big leagues. And Francona is not concerned that Drew Stubbs has never played right.
In nine seasons, Swisher has played right more than any position (719 games), but he’s played first in 307 games, including 41 last year with the Yankees.
Swisher probably could summon up enthusiasm about a new flavor of bubble gum in the clubhouse, so it’s not surprising that he talks passionately about the Tribe’s offseason moves.
“It’s my first time in this locker room, but just from seeing the excitement here, I have to tip my hat to Chris,” he said. “Chris and Tito (Francona) and all of the guys who made this possible, because right now we feel amazing. The atmosphere around here has been awesome.”
Swisher’s upbeat personality doesn’t necessarily sit well with opposing players.
Chris Perez told a member of the media last week that Swisher was his least favorite opponent to play against. Of course, now that Swisher is on his side, Perez is much more at ease with him.
“He never said that to me,” Swisher said. “I don’t really care anyway. I’ve heard all that stuff.”
However, Swisher has limits to how he is perceived. When asked if he strikes opposing players the same way as A.J. Pierzynski, he took offense. Pierzynski represents the gold standard of players who rub rival players the wrong way.
“Did you just compare me to A.J. Pierzynski?” he asked.
Proving again that Pierzynski is in a class by himself.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.