Cleveland Indians first baseman Nick Swisher returned to the team Sunday after spending a couple of days in Ohio attending his mother’s funeral. Will Swisher be mentally prepared to play baseball in order to get ready for the 2013 MLB regular season?
It was originally said that Swisher would return to the team late Saturday night after departing for Columbus Friday morning to attend the funeral. Neither Manager Terry Francona nor the Indians expected to see Swisher back so soon and were prepared to see him days later if that.
“I didn’t even want to call to check and see when he was coming back,” Francona said. “We were trying to prepare for the day. I told (hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo), `If he’s here, he’s here. If he’s not, he’s not.’ You’ve got to take care of what you’ve got to take care of. But there’s a little different vibe when he’s around, and I mean that in a really positive way.”
Swisher took care of family business and returned to the team as soon as possible. It was important for him to be back amongst his new friends and teammates.
“It’s nice to get around the guys, man,” Swisher said. “It takes your mind off stuff. … It’s nice to go back home and see everybody. It’s such a bad time. But it’s nice to be back here doing what I love, just getting back in my routine.”
The 32-year-old Swisher has already made quite the impact in spring training before the workouts even began last week. He made sure to thank the groundskeepers for making sure the fields are in great shape and even bought a portable stereo system to liven things up in the clubhouse. It’s good that he is becoming a positive influence around the team because he will have to be in prime condition this season if Cleveland wants a chance at competing in the American League Central where the 2012 AL champion Detroit Tigers reside.
Swisher was one of the big acquisitions for the Indians this off-season as the team signed him to a four-year, $56 million deal. The eight-year veteran originally signed on to play in the outfield but with the recent signing of Michael Bourn, he gladly moved to first base.
As far as being mentally prepared to play the game he thoroughly enjoys, that is going to take some work.
“The last thing I want to do is bring any more attention to this situation that what has to be,” he said. “It was nice. It was good to go home. The service was beautiful. We’ve just got to move on. We’ve got to do our grieving and just move on.”
Of course, this is easier said than done but the more Swisher gets his head in the game and be surrounded by his teammates the better off he will be. Hopefully, a successful season mixed with plenty of happy moments is in store for him over the next few months.
Swisher’s mother, Lillian Marie Malizia, passed away due to leukemia at the age of 63.