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Indians pull out stops for free agent Nick Swisher

Indians pull out stops for free agent Nick Swisher

CLEVELAND (AP) The Indians called upon a proven recruiter to land free agent outfielder Nick Swisher.

Former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel was among a group who had lunch on Tuesday at Progressive Field with Swisher, who is considering a multiyear contract offer from the Indians. Swisher would immediately fill a hole in right field for Cleveland, which traded Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati last week and has been trying to improve a team that collapsed in August and finished 68-94.

The 32-year-old Swisher, who spent the past four seasons with the New York Yankees, arrived in Cleveland on Tuesday night and went to dinner with new manager Terry Francona, team president Mark Shapiro and general manager Chris Antonetti. Last week, Antonetti said he intended to add a ``corner'' outfielder and the Indians are pulling out all the stops to add Swisher.

He and his wife, actress JoAnna Garcia, who is expecting the couple's first child in May, arrived at Progressive Field at 10:15 a.m. and toured the club's family room. They were shown a suite and the team's clubhouse before the Indians tugged at Swisher's Ohio State connections to convince him Cleveland should be his next baseball home. Swisher played baseball for the Buckeyes.

The Indians played a video on their scoreboard that featured current Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer and basketball coach Thad Matta, who encouraged Swisher to join the Indians. Swisher was moved by the gesture and didn't expect to see Tressel at lunch in the stadium's Terrace Club.

Tressel won a national title at Ohio State but was forced to resign amid a scandal. His new position is Akron's vice president of strategic engagement.

Following the lunch, which also included Francona, Swisher met with Shapiro and members of the club's marketing department. He left at 2:45 p.m. without giving the Indians an answer. Swisher is expected to visit with other teams before making a decision. Seattle, Philadelphia, Boston and San Francisco are among the teams who have shown interest in him.

``It was great to connect,'' Antonetti said. ``We had a chance to share our thoughts on the organization and where we are, and were able to answer any questions he may have had.''

A switch-hitter, Swisher batted .272 with 24 homers and 93 RBIs in 148 games last season, his fourth with the New York Yankees.

The Indians have been in the market for an outfielder throughout the offseason. They offered Shane Victorino a four-year contract worth a reported $44 million before he signed a three-year, $39 million deal with Boston.

Also, Cleveland officially signed free agent first baseman Mark Reynolds to a one-year, $6 million deal. He spent the past two seasons with Baltimore, batting .221 with 23 homers and 69 RBIs in 135 games last season.

``We feel Mark provides a great balance to our lineup, a right-handed hitter with some power, with the ability to get on base,'' Antonetti said. ``We feel he will help our offense.''

Reynolds passed a physical last week but his signing couldn't be announced until the Indians made a 40-man roster move. The club designated infielder Russ Canzler for assignment.

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Three home runs, Rio Ruiz flip, power Orioles to series victory and sweep opportunity vs. Phillies

Three home runs, Rio Ruiz flip, power Orioles to series victory and sweep opportunity vs. Phillies

With two outs in the eight inning and the Phillies threatening to tie the score, Andrew McCutchen hit a sharp ground ball to the left side of the infield. 

Orioles third baseman Rio Ruiz dove to his left, corralled the ball, and as he was falling, flipped a backhand shovel that rolled to second base just in time for the final out of the inning. It was one of the Orioles' best plays, on offense or defense, all season long. 

The standout defensive play kept the Orioles ahead 5-4, a score they’d win by, in their second straight win over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. It was the team's second-straight series win.

“That was a huge play,” Chance Sisco said. “It was crazy. Just going into the hole, obviously, is a tough play. And then I don’t know what happened, he stumbled a little bit and fell to the ground. I don’t know what it takes just to get that ball out of his glove. Just a great play.”

Ruiz’s defensive play assuredly prevented a run, and with a bullpen that had to work big innings, that play’s significance cannot be overstated.

“He’s just reading the ball really well, his feet are great, he’s just playing outstanding defense at third base,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “That play that he made in the hole, that was game-saving and really won us the game.”

Ruiz had a good night at the plate as well, as he hit a solo home run — as did Anthony Santander and Sisco, to lead the way offensively for the red-hot Orioles.

RELATED: HOW SOON IS TOO SOON FOR THE O'S TO START THINKING ABOUT THE DEADLINE?

After falling down 3-1, they rallied to tie the game in the fourth inning then took the lead in the fifth. An insurance run, by way of Sisco’s home run, gave the Orioles a two-run lead entering the eighth inning. 

Then, they held on — aided by Ruiz’s absurd defensive play — to push their record to 9-7 with a chance for a sweep over the Phillies on Thursday.

Through 16 games of the 2020 season, the Orioles have already surpassed some people’s expectations of what figured to be a year without any notable or exciting games. 

Now, they’re just riding the wave.

“It seems like good teams have different guys on different nights,” Hyde said. “And right now, that’s what we have. We had some big hits tonight. Chance Sisco, Smitty. Middle relief is what won us the game, to me. We pitched well and we got enough runs to hold on.”

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Orioles 3B Rio Ruiz makes jaw-dropping play to preserve win over Phillies

Orioles 3B Rio Ruiz makes jaw-dropping play to preserve win over Phillies

A night after the Philadelphia Phillies dropped a game to the Orioles due to defensive mistakes, Baltimore did the opposite to preserve a win on Wednesday.

Up 5-4 in the eighth inning, the Orioles found themselves in a jam with runners on first and second with two outs and Andrew McCutchen up at the plate. The Philadelphia outfielder slapped a ball between third base and shortstop that should have probably gotten through and tied the game.

But, unfortunately for the Phillies and luckily for the Orioles, Rio Ruiz was at the hot corner.

Not only was the range to stop the ball impressive, but Ruiz then had the instinct to flip the ball to second for the force out. The incredible play essentially saved the game and allowed Baltimore to pick up a 5-4 victory.

RELATED: PHILLIES ANALYST CALLS LOSS TO O'S 'EMBARRASSMENT TO BASEBALL' 

Ruiz also launched a solo homer in the top of the fifth inning to help the Orioles break a 3-3 tie, so it was an all-around impressive performance for the third baseman.

Manny Machado who? Okay, maybe not. But, one thing is true: You can't spell "Orioles" without "Rio." At least on Wednesday night. 

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