When the New York Yankees picked up the just-released Nick Swisher, a rare opportunity emerged for the 35-year old.
By Christian Kouroupakis
Excitement was in the air the moment word got around that Nick Swisher had returned to the New York Yankees organization. However, not even selfies and the energy of a teenager could guarantee a Major League roster spot for the former All-Star.
Swisher was with the team in from 2009-2012 where he won a World Series, was an All-Star in 2010, and slugged 105 home runs while being a fan favorite especially with the “Bleacher Creatures” in section 203.
Despite the porous play with the Atlanta Braves (.195/.349/.339 slash line) in 2015, Swisher was signed to a minor-league contract to provide insurance in case of an injury to Mark Teixeira.
At first, Nick was being positively Swisherlicious with his .333/.381/.556 slash line with a home run and three RBI in his first week at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and not only was he hitting the cover off the ball, but he was playing loose with a child-like energy, something that will never change despite being 35-years of age.
“It’s something I’ve missed for a long time that I want back,” Swisher told the NY Daily News. “Those Yankee pinstripes run deep. Once you’re a part of it and you don’t have it, you miss it. I’m one of those lucky guys that get an opportunity to come back and try to prove myself again.”
However, the spark of returning to the greatest organization in baseball can only last so long as Swisher’s two bad knees caught up to him rather quickly in the Electric City.
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After hitting .340 in the month of April at PNC Field, his batting average dipped to .238 featuring a .268 on-base percentage, and four homers in 42 games. Those porous numbers made the Yankees pass over him on numerous occasions despite the common folk thinking it was inevitable.
When New York lost Greg Bird and then Dustin Ackley to season-ending injuries some felt Swisher might get the call when Ackley got hurt. Some then felt the man with 483 career games at first might get the call when Mark Teixeira went down with a knee injury that could potentially threaten his season, but Swisher was passed over yet again.
Even when the guy that he was competing with for a promotion, Chris Parmelee was put on the shelf due to a hamstring injury yet the Yankees chose to go with Rob Refsnyder at first and use Parmelee’s roster spot for the right-handed pitcher, Chad Green.
There were two ways that Swisher was going to get the call to the Bronx. Injuries were number one as at the time of his signing, there was no spot for him on the roster. Number two was hit the ball, which he simply has not done making Swisher’s dream of returning to the Bronx has become a bona fide nightmare.
Just to put the icing on the cake for the fan favorite, yesterday the Yankees reportedly signed 29-year Ike Davis to a major league contract which, quite frankly, puts a dagger through any chance of Swisher being called up.
“Maybe run out there to right field one more time and pump those Bleacher Creatures up like a WWE wrestler, like the old days,” Swisher told ESPN. “I still think I bring a lot to the ballpark, not necessarily on the field, but even just walking into a locker room. Just being me brings a lot. I’ve put so much pressure on myself, thinking that it is going to be a sprint. I was so hot those first three or four weeks I was here, and nothing happened. From there, I just picked the wrong month to have a bad month.”
If Swish plans on returning to the show anytime soon, he’ll have to prove that May was exactly what he says it was: a bad month. Additionally, following a porous 2015 season with the Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves in which he hit sub .200, Swisher needs to demonstrate to the Yankees’ organization that he still can produce at the dish, which maybe he still can.
On Sunday, after going 2-for-3 the previous game, Swish cranked two home runs against the Columbus Clippers to raise his slash line to .254/.283/.401 in what appears to be a final push for the pros.
If Davis gets cut for underperforming, like he was with the Texas Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate, and Swisher turns these last two games into a common occurrence he may very well pump up those fans in right.
On the contrary, Swisher is possibly confronting the harsh truth that each and every baseball player mush encounter. That truth is that his big league career may be over. The Yankees don’t necessarily have to say it, but passing him over a dozen times with the addition of signing Ike Davis may have done the job.