Ex-New York Yankee Nick Swisher wasn’t happy about being asked about the tumultuous end to his four-year career in pinstripes.
“Live in the now, bro ... you’re just trying to stir it up again,” said Swisher, who will play his first game in the Bronx Monday night since signing a four-year, $56 million free-agent contract with the Cleveland Indians in the offseason.
“It was something that happened so long ago. I thought we kind of handled that and kind of squashed that.”
Swisher hit just .167 during the 2012 playoffs and became angered at Yankees fans for verbally attacking him at the Stadium and on Twitter.
“That’s the last thing that I ever thought would be in this ballpark, that people would get on you that bad,” Swisher said at the time. “Especially your home, where your heart is, where you’ve been battling and grinding all year long. It’s just frustrating, man. You never want to be in that spot. It’s not like you’re trying to go out there and do bad on purpose. It’s just tough, man.
“It hurts. Sometimes I’m a sensitive guy and some of the things people say, they get under your skin a little bit. I’ve been lucky to be here for the past four years, bro.”
But when asked before Monday's game about what he thought it would be like out there wearing the opposing team’s jersey, Swisher said, “I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be awesome. This is one of the greatest places I got the opportunity to play and I know Bald Vinny and them ‘[Bleacher] Creatures’ are gonna be out there tonight and I’m looking forward to seeing all of them.”
Asked about what type of reception he thought he’d receive, Swisher said, “I know my time here was absolutely amazing, and I hope it was for them as well.”
The luxury-tax conscious Yankees decided to move on and Swisher landed in Cleveland, where he’s compiled an .829 on-base plus slugging percentage along with seven home runs and 20 RBIs. By comparison, New York’s regular right fielder, Ichiro Suzuki, has a .639 OPS.
Still, Swisher had nothing but good things to say about his time with the Yankees.
“Just in general [it was great] being part of the tradition,” Swisher said. “Obviously winning the World Series in 2009 was pretty cool, but I just think the mystique of being a Yankee and everything was just so great and something I was so proud to be a part of.”
Swisher, now more than just a complementary piece, is hoping to have the same type of success he enjoyed with the Yankees in Cleveland.
“I’ve been very fortunate in my career,” Swisher said. “I’ve been able to be in the postseason a good amount, but to be able to take a team like this there would be the greatest thing on the planet. Cleveland has been waiting a long time for a winner, and we’re going to do our best to get us there.”
Swisher’s mind certainly wasn’t on last offseason, when he was forced to leave a team he loved playing for. The Yankees made a qualifying offer, but the 32-year-old rejected it.
“I still have great relationships with everybody over there. I knew very early in the offseason that coming back here was not gonna be an option for me, and also I had to do my best to [move] on,” he said. “Obviously making that [move] was a little harder than most things I’ve done in my life, but that’s kind of part of the game, this is a business.”
Swisher was acquired by the Yankees after he hit just .219 with the Chicago White Sox in 2008.
“I couldn’t thank my boy Brian Cashman any more,” he said. “He helped me a lot, man, especially after that 2008 season, that was such bad year, and for him to have that much faith in me to come over, obviously every time I took the field I wanted to do my best.”
Asked what the Yankees miss most about not having Swisher, manager Joe Girardi said, “He’s a high-energy guy, [a] switch-hitter that was really productive. As I talked about, we sometimes run about five or six lefty [hitters] in a row, and he was very good at splitting that up, and you could hit him anywhere, really. From second to seventh in your lineup, he gave you a lot of flexibility.”