Swisher happy with Tribe, grateful for time with Yanks

Swisher happy with Tribe, grateful for time with Yanks

NEW YORK -- Nick Swisher was not nervous about taking the field at Yankee Stadium on Monday night. Of course, he was in the lineup for the Indians as their first baseman, eliminating a reunion with the right field bleacher creatures.

Swisher's last appearance in right field in the Bronx came in pinstripes and the locals were hard on him for a subpar postseason performance. He would rather not revisit that final forgettable chapter of his otherwise memorable time with the Yankees. Swisher enjoyed his time in New York and he is happy with his newfound leadership role with Cleveland.

"Live in the now, bro," Swisher said.

Swisher spent four seasons with the Yankees, further establishing himself as a great clubhouse presence and consistent on-field performer. When New York made it clear that Swisher would not be back for another year, he explored free agency and landed a four-year, $56 million contract with the Indians that includes a club option for 2017.

Monday marked his first trip back to Yankee Stadium since last October and Swisher was excited to see how fans responded to his return.

"I'm looking forward to it," Swisher said. "I think it's going to be awesome, man. I think it's just one of the greatest places I got the opportunity to play. I know Bald Vinny and them creatures are going to be out there [in the bleachers]. I'm looking forward to seeing all of them."

During his first at-bat in the first inning on Monday, fans at Yankee Stadium cheered for Swisher as his name was announced. After the warm reception, he took a moment to wave to the crowd before batting. Then, in the bottom of the first, fans in the right-field bleachers gave him his own roll call, chanting, "Swisher! Swisher!"

Swisher, 32, had hit .264 with seven home runs, 14 doubles, 20 RBIs and 26 walks in 50 games with the Indians entering Monday's tilt. It has been a performance in line with his four seasons in New York. During that stretch, the switch-hitter posted a .268 batting average with an average of 26 homers and 87 RBIs in 150 games per season.

Swisher said he owed a lot to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman for trading for him after a rough 2008 season in Chicago. He added that he was enjoying seeing the city again, and reconnecting with old friends at the ballpark.

"I've got a lot of smiles going on today," Swisher said. "It's super exciting to be back here for a couple days."

Swisher has admitted multiple times that the Yankees lack of interest in re-signing him hurt to a certain extent.

"I had to do my best to step on," Swisher said. "Obviously, making that step was a little harder than most things I've done in my life, but that's part of the game. This is a business."

That said, Swisher is thrilled to be with the Tribe for the next several years.

"It's just a different chapter in my life," he said. "Being in Cleveland, it's such a family environment over there and such great people running the organization. And, hopefully, [we can] be that resurrecting class that can kind of get us back to where we belong. We've been given a great opportunity over here."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.