Capitals

Nick Swisher ecstatic about joining Indians

201301031604578883895-p2.jpeg

Nick Swisher ecstatic about joining Indians

CLEVELAND (AP) Nick Swisher's smile was broader and brighter than the Chief Wahoo logo on his new cap.

He was back in Ohio, back at home, back where it all started.

``This is the place for me to be,'' he said. ``All roads led to Cleveland.''

Swisher, who spent the past four seasons wearing Yankees pinstripes, was introduced Thursday by the Indians, who managed to land the free-agent outfielder by playing to his deep Buckeye roots and giving him a four-year, $56 million contract that includes a vesting option for a fifth year.

Not long after passing a physical and signing the richest free-agent deal in Indians history, Swisher was handed a new No. 33 jersey.

He might wear it to bed.

From the moment he walked into the media room at Progressive Field with a large group of family and friends, Swisher couldn't stop smiling and laughing.

``I can't help it, man,'' he said, shaking his head. ``This is unbelievable. I never in a million years thought I would be in this position. As a little kid you dream about playing in the big leagues, but I don't know if I ever dreamed about being in a situation like this. It's an amazing time for my family and I.''

The 32-year-old Swisher, who was born in Columbus and attended Ohio State, didn't try to hide his enthusiasm in joining the Indians, who convinced him that he could help their lineup and maybe get them back to the days when they were contending for AL Central titles on a yearly basis.

After trading Shin-Soo Choo last month, the Indians were desperate for a proven right fielder. They pursued Shane Victorino at the winter meetings, but after he signed with Boston, the Indians turned their attention to Swisher, who batted .272 with 24 homers and 93 RBIs last season - his fourth with the New York Yankees.

A switch-hitter, Swisher provides power and versatility to new manager Terry Francona's lineup. The Indians only hit 136 homers last season, second-fewest in the AL.

``This is a big deal,'' said Francona. ``I don't think there is any reason for us to be cool about this. I can't tell you how excited I am to have him. There were a lot of other teams that wanted this guy real bad. This is a big day for us."

Swisher acknowledged that when free agency began, he didn't expect the Indians to be one of the teams interested him. He had several multiyear offers from others, but the Indians were the most aggressive suitor and they used his Ohio connections to convince him to come to Cleveland.

When Swisher and his wife, actress JoAnna Garcia Swisher, visited Progressive Field last month, the club rolled out the scarlet-and-gray - Ohio State's colors - carpet to impress them. Upon arrival, they were presented with a tiny Indians jersey, sized for a baby. The couple is expecting their first child, a girl, in May.

``That definitely helped,'' Swisher said.

The Indians took Swisher on the field and had him walk to home plate. As he made his way onto the diamond, the public address system announced his name and the Indians played recorded messages from current Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer as well as Buckeyes basketball coach Thad Matta on the giant scoreboard, urging him to come ``home.''

Afterward, the couple went to lunch and the Indians surprised Swisher by bringing in former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel.

The recruiting push overwhelmed Swisher.

``We were walking out of here like, `Man, these guys did it right,''' Swisher said. ``They tugged on the right strings. They went Ohio State on me. They brought my idol Jim Tressel back. They did it right. Even with all the other places I visited, there was nothing compared to this. I have never felt love like this before.''

Francona's arrival in Cleveland also had an impact on Swisher, whose father, Steve, managed the two-time World Series winner in the minor leagues. Swisher said Francona's hiring played a major role in him signing with the Indians.

``You don't bring a guy like this over here if you don't plan on winning,'' Swisher said. ``To have that captain of your ship, a proven guy who knows how to manage the game the right way, that made it an easier decision for me.''

An All-Star in 2010, Swisher is just one of three American Leaguers to hit at least 20 homers in each of the last eight seasons.

With New York concerned about avoiding the luxury tax in the future, the Yankees did not go after Swisher after he turned down a qualifying offer from them. For Swisher, playing for the Yankees was special.

``I had an awesome time,'' he said. ``To be part of an organization like that with the winning tradition, it rubs off on you and hopefully that can be something that I can bring over here and maybe be more of a leader in the clubhouse than I ever have been before.''

Swisher's signing is among many offseason moves by general manager Chris Antonetti as he tries to rebuild a team which collapsed in August - going 5-24 - and finished 68-94. In addition to hiring Francona, the Indians signed free agent first baseman Mark Reynolds and acquired center fielder Drew Stubbs and prized pitching prospect Trevor Bauer in a three-team trade.

Swisher believes the Indians can win, and as he left the podium, he let everyone know it.

``Roll Tribe,'' he yelled, pumping his fist.

Quick Links

Remembering the highlights of each of the Capitals' American players

Remembering the highlights of each of the Capitals' American players

The Capitals have a superstar Russian, an incredible Swedish center, a Canadian netminder, but the team also boasts several American players as well. On the 4th of July when American celebrate the birth of our nation, lets put down the barbecue, apple pie and fireworks for a few minutes to remember some of the top highlights from each of the team's Americans.

Travis Boyd: 4 goals for Hayden

In Feb. 2018, Boyd turned hardship into an inspirational moment. While with the Hershey Bears, Boyd's daughter, Hayden, developed a serious infection and had to go to the hospital. Boyd went with her on a Sunday and did not leave until Friday morning to prepare for that night's game, a game in which he would score four goals.

John Carlson: The golden goal

Carlson has numerous highlights from his career with the Caps, but on Indepence Day it seems only fitting to look back at his biggest goal for his country. Carlson represented Team USA in the 2010 World Junior Championships which was hosted by Canada that year. USA made it all the way to the final where the played the host nation. Tied at 5 through regulation, Carlson scored the golden goal off a 2-on-1 as he caught the goalie leaning anticipating the pass.

Nic Dowd: Historic penalty shot

In Game 5 of the Caps' series against the Carolina Hurricanes in 2019, Nic Dowd was slashed by defenseman Dougie Hamilton while he was in alone on goalie Petr Mrazek. Dowd was awarded the first penalty shot of his career and he delivered, dekeing right to open up Mrazek's pads and tucking the puck through the 5-hole. In addition to being his first penalty shot goal, the goal was also Dowd's first-career playoff point.

The goal also had some historic significance for the team as it was Washington's first ever playoff penalty shot goal.

RELATED: 2003 NHL REDRAFT

Garnet Hathaway: Shows his toughness against the Rangers

On Oct. 18, the Caps hosted the New York Rangers and it proved to be an pretty epic night for Hathaway. He was knocked out of the game in the second period with a broken nose after a big hit from Jacob Trouba, came back in the third, drew a cross-check, fought Brendan Smith (again, with a broken nose), the Caps scored on the resulting power play and Hathaway returned to score the empty-netter.

That’s a pretty unbelievable game.

Nick Jensen: Assisting on goal No. 700

Jensen has been with the Capitals for about a year and a half, but he will forever be linked to the team's greatest franchise player thanks to one assist.

Against the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 22, Jensen grabbed a loose puck behind the offensive goal line and sent it back behind the net to keep the offensive cycle going. That allowed Evgeny Kuznetsov to find Alex Ovechkin who scored career goal No. 700.


T.J. Oshie: T.J. Sochi

Who could forget about Oshie's incredible performance at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi?

Playing against Team Russia, USA leaned heavily on Oshie in the shootout. He would score four times on goalie Sergei Bobrovsky as USA walked away victorious.

Stay connected to the Capitals with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

Today's Live Sports: July 4

Today's Live Sports: July 4

Baseball

4:55 a.m. – Korea Baseball Organization: Kiwoom Heroes at KT Wiz (ESPN)

Auto Racing

5:55 a.m. – Formula One Racing: Australian Grand Prix Practice 3 (ESPN 2)

8:55 a.m. – Formula One Racing: Australian Grand Prix Practice 3 (ESPN)

12:00 p.m. - IndyCar Racing: GMR Grand Prix (NBC)

3:00 p.m. - Nascar Infinity Series: Pennzoil 150 at The Brickyard (NBC)

6:00 p.m. - Auto Racing: IMSA Weather Tech Sports Car Championship (NBCSN)

Soccer

7:25 a.m. – English Premier League: Norwich City vs. Brighton  (NBCSN)

9:55 a.m. – English Premier League: Manchester City vs. Bournemouth (NBCSN)

12:25 p.m. - English Premier League: Wolverhampton vs. Arsenal (NBCSN)

1:25 p.m. - Futbol: La Liga 2: Almeria vs. Tenerife (WQAW)

1:45 p.m. - German Cup, final: Bayer Leverkusen vs. Bayern Munich (ESPN2)

2:55 p.m. - English Premier League: Chelsea vs. Walford (NBCSN)

7:30 p.m. - Futbol: Copa GNP por Mexico: UNAM vs. Cruz Azul (Univision, WFDC)

9:55 p.m. - Futbol: Copa GNP por Mexico: Guadalajara vs. Atlas (Univision, WFDC)

Horseracing

10:00 a.m. – International Horseracing: English Oaks and English Derby (FS1)

1:00 p.m. - America's Day at the Races (FS1)

9:00 p.m. - Breeders' Cup Challenge Series: Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap (WRC)

Tennis

12:00 p.m. – DraftKings All-American Team Cup (Tennis Channel)

3:00 p.m. - Tennis: Ultimate Tennis Showdown (Tennis Channel)

Hot Dog Eating Contest

12:00 p.m. – 2020 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest (ESPN)

Golf

1:00 p.m. – PGA Tour Golf: 2020 Rocket Mortgage Golf Classic, third round (Golf Channel)

3:00 p.m. – PGA Tour Golf: 2020 Rocket Mortgage Golf Classic, third round (WUSA, WJZ)

Basketball

3:00 p.m. – The Basketball Tournament: Big X vs. D2 (ESPN)

5:00 p.m. – The Basketball Tournament: Brotherly Love vs. Stilllwater Stars (ESPN)

8:00 p.m. – The Basketball Tournament: House of 'Paign vs. War Tampa (ESPN)

10:00 p.m. – The Basketball Tournament: Tennis CP3 vs. Mid American Unity (ESPN)

MORE NEWS