Nick Swisher's road to recovery began on Saturday night when he pinch hit in the bottom of the ninth inning, eight days after he strained his left hip flexor at Oakland. The next step comes this evening when he starts in a game for the first time since that July 20 contest on the West Coast.
“It's exciting, it's exciting,” Swisher said to the media before the game. “I'm the type of guy that I'm not a big fan of missing games, so whenever I can be back in there doing what I can to help the team, I want to be in there.”
The lineup was put out, and in the series finale, Swisher will be the designated hitter, batting fifth. Again, another step on the road to recovery -- not going full-out playing the field, and just taking somewhat of a precaution.
“I think I'm going to DH today and move to the field tomorrow,” Swisher said. “I feel pretty good right now. I mean, if they needed me out there, I would do everything in my power to go out there and play it. I feel just today maybe go with the DH, getting back in that game-speed-type atmosphere, and then move out to the outfield tomorrow.”
Even though Swisher was optimistic about getting back out to the field for Monday's series opener against the Orioles, Joe Girardi said he's “day-to-day,” and they will see how this game goes and how he feels tomorrow.
In the 10 games before the injury, Swisher's bat was heating up. He was 9-for-28, a .321 average, with two home runs and seven RBIs from July 7 to July 19. And even though the Yankees' offense has been very good in his absence, the switch-hitter does create many matchup problems for opponents.
The problem with most players in baseball, including Swisher, is that they just want to go out and play and sometimes don't think of the long-term consequences of playing through even minor injuries.
“I think that's my biggest enemy, that's my biggest fight, is me,” Swisher said. “I want to be out there, and sometimes it takes another side or another party to really tell you things that could happen. This is a special year, and I don't want to miss any part of this, and I just want to do what I can when I'm on the field to help this team.”