Indians first baseman Nick Swisher completed his first of two Double-A rehab games with the Akron RubberDucks on Tuesday, and, not surprisingly, he feels “Awesome, man.”
Swisher played the first five innings of the Ducks’ seven-inning game, the first of two they played in a doubleheader against Binghamton.
Swisher played first base and went 0-for-2 at the plate. In the first inning, he took the first two pitches, the first for a ball and the second for a strike, before fouling one off and then chasing a breaking ball for strike three.
In his second at-bat, Swisher smoked a line drive on a 1-1 count but it was hit directly to the shortstop, who caught it on the fly.
“It was just nice to get out there and move around a little bit,” Swisher said. “I’ve been caged up for the last 10 or 11 days. Just being able to get out there and move around a little bit. First at-bat, man, it felt like the pitcher was about 100 feet away.”
Swisher had his hyperextended left knee tested in the fifth inning when third baseman Ronny Rodriguez skipped a ball over to first and Swisher had to stretch in an attempt to catch it. It got under his glove, but the more important thing is that Swisher felt no restrictions in his knee.
“It felt great,” Swisher said. “I thought the ball was going to bounce up and make a great scoop on it, but it kind of just slid under my glove, man. More than anything it’s just getting out there and going through the motions and making sure everything feels right. Everything feels good, man.”
The whole Indians team has been swinging the bat well as of late, as evidenced by their 17-run rout over Texas on Monday. But considering how well teammates Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana have played since returning from the disabled list, Swisher is excited to get back on the field and join in on the fun.
“I’m just stoked, man,” Swisher said. “Just feels like today was kind of my first game. I had butterflies, but I’m ready to go.”
Swisher had scuffled through the season prior to being placed on the disabled list, hitting just three home runs in his first 49 games with a .211 batting average and .312 on-base percentage.
Though Swisher isn’t one to make excuses for his performance, he did admit that he was trying to play through pain before his stint on the DL.
“I mean, you have to man. This is baseball,” Swisher said. “You’re not always going to feel good all the time. Everybody was battling through, I could have battled through as well. I just kind got to that point where I was like ‘Yeah, you’ve got to take a little break.’ ”
Cleveland fans may remember Swisher’s shoulder injury last season that many linked to a decline in his performance, specifically in the power department. The knee is obviously a much different ailment, but Swisher still doesn’t expect similar lingering issues this season.
“Well, it’s just nice to have your knees back underneath you,” Swisher said. “I feel like my swing is a lot more quick, a lot more direct. I just feel better, that’s it. I don’t know how else to say it. I just feel stronger.”
When asked if Swisher thought he would ever be a RubberDuck, he responded like only a true “Brohio-an” could:
“I’m repping it! I’m owning it!”