Nick Swisher is done for the season with dual knee surgeries. Swisher opted to have the surgeries performed after seeking a second opinion on his bum knees. Hoping to play out the remainder of the season, Swisher has to be disappointed. He is the Cleveland Indians‘ highest paid player after signing a four-year, $56 million deal with the Tribe in the winter of 2013, but he has surely not played like it to this point.
Swisher came over from a loaded New York Yankees team as the power hitter the Indians sorely lacked. An Ohio native with attitude and flair, Swisher quickly blossomed as a fan favorite, spawning the Brohio section at Progressive Field. Fans figured he could jumpstart a lineup that needed a middle-of-the-order power bat. Last season, Swisher struggled mightily early on, yet he rallied late to slash .246/.321/.423 while mashing 22 homers and compiling 63 RBI. He was a big reason why the Indians managed to earn a Wild Card berth, and Terry Francona hoped the momentum gathered by Swisher at the tail end of 2013 would carry over to the 2014 season.
Instead, Swisher came out of the gates slow for the Tribe and never rebounded. He took it easy in Spring Training hoping to completely rehab a shoulder injury that hampered him for most of 2013. One has to wonder whether the rest hurt him in the long run, as his swing looked long all season and he struggled to make good contact consistently. His knees became weak early on and only worsened as he got deeper into the season.
Veterans generally train harder as they get into their 30s, attempting to stay in great shape despite the disadvantages of aging. Swisher took the opposite approach despite asserting that he was totally healthy in the spring. Swisher stated he simply wanted to rest, save his energy for the long season ahead. He only managed to play in 97 games, striking out 111 times in the process and slashing .208/.278/.331. By comparison, Swisher struck out only 136 times in 145 games last season. His batting average is the second worst in the history of the Indians for players with more than 400 plate appearances.
Swisher now will need to rehab both knees before making a comeback in 2015. With two years left on his massive deal, the Indians need production from him. Hopefully Swisher will work hard this summer to get stronger and healthier than ever before, and he will come out swinging come Spring Training.