CLEVELAND (AP) — Nick Swisher’s disappointing second season with the Indians is over.
Swisher underwent surgery on both knees Wednesday, procedures the first baseman/outfielder hopes will alleviate pain and prolong his career. The 33-year-old has underperformed after getting a four-year, $56 million contract from the Indians before last season. He entered 2014 looking to improve on a sub-par first season with Cleveland, but he’s not been able to produce and the Indians finally put him on the disabled list on Aug. 10.
The Indians said Swisher’s surgery was in Los Angeles. He’ll need 8 to 10 weeks to recover and is expected to make a full recovery.
Indians manager Terry Francona is certain Swisher will do everything he can to get back.
“He’ll be real motivated and regardless of how much money you’ve made or whatever, guys want to be good players,” Francona said in Minnesota. “There’s a lot of pride. He’s going to have his work cut out for him this winter but he’s getting a head start on it, which is good, and so the majority of his winter will be maybe almost normal, because you get the rehab out of the way the next six weeks and have a pretty decent winter.”
After Indians team physician, Dr. Richard Parker, recommended surgery, Swisher got a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who is on the Dodgers’ medical staff. ElAttrache confirmed the earlier diagnosis that Swisher has chronic medial knee discomfort as a result of medial meniscus wear and tear in both knees.
“It’s definitely unfortunate,” Indians infielder Mike Aviles said. “Everyone knows the energy he brings and what he brings to the table. It’s unfortunate that he was dealing with some pain in his knees and we’re pretty much losing him for the rest of the year here. Anytime you lose one of your veterans like that, it’s always tough, but at the same time we’ve got to come together more than ever and try to pick up the slack and try to move forward and win some ballgames.”
Before he was sidelined, Swisher was batting .208 with eight home runs and 42 RBIs in 97 games. Francona moved him off first base to see if that would reduce the pain.
“I actually think playing the outfield was easier,” Francona said. “You’re not starting and stopping. It’s a weird thing because there were days when he’d come in and he’d feel great. And then it kind of grabbed him when we were in New York. To be honest, until you get in there you don’t know. You kind of go on symptoms and how the player says he feels. “
Last season, Swisher batted .246 — his lowest average since 2008 — and hit 22 homers with 63 RBIs, a career-low. Despite the drop-off, Swisher is one of just two AL players to hit at least 20 homers in each of the past nine seasons.
The Indians have managed to stay in the playoff chase without Swisher. They entered Wednesday’s game 6 1-2 games out of first place in the AL Central.
Swisher has also played with the New York Yankees, White Sox and Oakland Athletics.
AP freelancer Patrick Donnelly in Minneapolis contributed to this report.
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