Nick Swisher Puts Contract Year Out of Mind, Opens With Strong March

May 2, 2012 – 6:00 am by Eric Schmoldt

Nick Swisher admits that he got caught up in his contract situation a bit, especially early last season. He knew he was headed to a spot where the New York Yankees had an option to keep him around this season and badly wanted to make sure that happened. Swisher recovered a bit from an early start, but still had a bit of a down year with 23 home runs and a .260 batting average.

The Yankees picked up his option, but that meant he’d enter 2012 with a similar situation on his hands. If he wants to stick around New York long-term, he’d have to show this season. So far, so good. While he was dinged up a bit over the weekend, he’s already got six big flies, 23 RBI and is hitting .284 through the end of April.

Nick Swisher joined WFAN in New York with Mike Francesca to discuss his recent injury, getting back on track when he gets back in the lineup, offseason criticism about his play in the postseason, John Kruk’s comments about his recent celebration at Fenway, the fast start to the season and putting the contract situation out of mind.

You’ve got a bit of a hamstring injury. Has this been bothering you on and off?:

“No, you know what? It’s so crazy, man. You do your warmups and get yourself ready to play in a game. And when things like this happen, obviously the hamstring was not the part that was really the problem. Obviously there’s something else that is tight that caused the hamstring to pop in a way. We’ve worked on that. … For me, I want to be in there. If I can lobby with Skip, I’d try to be in there tonight.”

You began on such a great run. Does that make it hurt more that you’re out of the lineup?:

“That’s no reason for me to believe that I can’t pick up right where I left off. … I think the physical transformation that I’ve kind of taken with my body this offseason has really paid off for me. That’s one of the greatest things, to go home in the offseason, work your tail off, put in the time, put in the sweat, and to get results. I think that’s what has happened for me so far this year.”

When the Yankees don’t win in the playoffs, everyone points to the guys that didn’t hit in the postseason. Did it bother you that you were part of that conversation this offseason?:

“Yeah, you know, I feel that’s a little fuel for the fire. I’m one of those guys that every time I go out and play the game, I want to be successful. And when you’re not, it hurts. For me, I took all that aggression out on the weights this offseason and just did everything I could from that point on to be a better baseball player.”

On John Kruk calling him out for celebrating a comeback victory over the Red Sox:

“I feel like some people might have taken that a little out of context. Him being a West Virginia boy and me being a West Virginia boy, and I don’t really think that he meant to come down, but the way he said it I think was what kind of rubbed people the wrong way. I’m an emotional guy and you’d like to think that he’s watched me play for the last eight or nine years, he’d know that. I haven’t changed since Day One. I don’t know if he’s never been part of a rivalry like that, but when you come down from 9-0 against your rival in Fenway Park, that’s a pretty emotional moment right there.”

You had six home runs and 22 RBI in April. What’s that start mean to you?:

“I tell you what, it was a lot better feeling than it was for me last year. I had said that this year I had kind of a new motto, that I was just going to have fun. I know what’s at stake this year for this team and even for myself, personally, but I try not to think about that stuff. … Last year was that super stressful year because I was playing to come back this year and for them to pick up my option. That didn’t quite work for me early in the season, so I told myself, ‘Let’s just try to relax, man. Let’s just try and be you and enjoy this game.’ I feel like when I’m enjoying myself and I’m having the time of my life, that’s when I’m the player I can be.”

How do you keep the fact that it’s a contract year from creeping into your head?:

“I’m basically just trying to put it in the corner of my mind. I feel that when you stress about that stuff, that’s when it really kind of takes away from your game a little bit. I’m very fortunate to be here. This is my fourth year here. I think I’ve been very vocal about how much I want to be back here, how much I want to be part of this organization for the rest of my career. We’re going to have to cross that bridge when we come to it.”

Listen to Nick Swisher on WFAN in New York here

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