With big contracts comes big pressure but Nick Swisher he of 1000-watt smile off-the-charts optimism and can-do attitude would certainly avoid such a trap. From the moment he was introduced to Cleveland in January after officially signing the biggest free-agent deal in Indians' history Swisher seemed like the happiest man in the world. He still does but a four-year $56 million deal can be a tough thing to lug in and out of the cleanup spot four or five times a night. On Monday manager Terry Francona officially moved Swisher from fourth to second in the lineup. It may last for a couple of weeks it may last for the rest of the year. "I'm one of those guys who puts a lot of pressure on themselves" said Swisher regarding his contract. "You want to live up to that. You don't want to let anyone down. I think that was probably half my battle. I was worrying so much about that and I forgot about going out there and playing the game you love." Swisher's best power year was 2006 with Oakland when he hit 35 homers and 95 RBI. He enters the Indians' three-game series against Texas Friday at Progressive Field hitting .242 (76-for-314) with 45 runs 16 doubles one triple 10 homers 32 RBI and a .741 OPS (slugging+on base percentage) in 85 games. After 85 games last year with the Yankees Swisher was hitting .258 (78-for-302) with 40 runs 22 doubles 14 homers 54 RBI and a .812 OPS. Swisher has never been the classic cleanup hitter. He has pop averaging almost 26 homers a year from 2005-12 but until this season he's never been a day-in day-out No.4 hitter. In fact he's spent most of his career hitting second and sixth. "Coming over here and being in the four hole I felt like I had to hit 40 home runs and this and that" said Swisher. "I don't know if I'm capable of hitting 40 home runs. Maybe trying to play outside my game has been kind of my downfall a little bit." Francona has seen this happen to other players. His message to Swisher has been the same since the day he signed. "I've told Swish to just play his game" said Francona. "We just want him to be himself. We brought him over here because he's a good player. That's all he has to be. "Swish is a conscientious guy. It's a good quality but it can get you in a rut." In his first at-bat in the No.2 spot Swisher homered Monday against Seattle at Safeco Field. He added a single in his next at-bat. "I was encouraged by that swing when he drove the ball to left center field for the home run" said hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo. "He really wants to contribute and ends up trying too hard sometimes. But he's going to get it. He'll be fine." Besides coping with expectations Swisher has been dealing with a sore left shoulder since spring training. He's received cortisone shots and been rested periodically but it's something that is going to linger for the rest of the year.
Swisher couldn't avoid pressure of big contract, but he's still bullish on Indians
Cleveland Plain Dealer | Jul 26