The Yankees reached back a bit in time and are bringing a perennial fan favorite to Spring Training as an instructor. His effervescent personality is sure to be a hit with the younger players the team is assembling in camp. And his presence will also be a reminder to the veterans that this doesn’t last forever.
The Yankees made a move today that should warm the hearts of baseball fans, and Yankees fans in particular, when they hired Nick Swisher as a guest instructor for Spring Training. Swisher will be joining fellow rookie instructor, Alex Rodriguez, as well as the returning cast of Yankees legends that includes Goose Gossage, Reggie Jackson, Hideki Matsui, Ron Guidry, Willie Randolph, Stump Merrill and Lee Mazzilli.
“Instructor” is a loose term that may or may not involve on the field teaching. More aptly, their focus and contributions will be counted more as mentors and “just being there.” It’ll be their job to approach the newcomers to the team and make them feel welcome in the Yankees organization, as opposed to say a Chance Adams glancing over and seeing Ron Guidry and saying to himself, “Man, I’d like to have five minutes with that guy.”
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For Nick Swisher, though, this has to be a special thrill for him as well. You may recall that it was only a few months ago that Swisher had been let go by the Cleveland Indians in the middle of an attempted return to the big leagues. Then, the team signed him to a minor league contract and off he went to Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre where things went from bad to worse.
And when Tyler Austin was called up in front of him, Swisher could see the proverbial writing on the wall, and he knew his time as a major league ballplayer was coming to a close. Exasperated at that point and as brash as ever, Swisher told the press that he “didn’t want to be there (Moosic, PA) anymore.”
And when the organization offered him a second minor league contract, he declined, although he has not officially retired as an active player. But sometimes, opportunity walks in the door when you least expect it. And this just might be that portal that opens a chance for a second career as a coach with the Yankees.
Yankees Coaching Changes Need To Include Swisher
Changes are imminent when the 2017 season concludes, no matter where the team finishes in the standings. A new team needs a new manager, and a new manager automatically brings in a new coaching staff.
Nick Swisher, if nothing else, brings a level of energy wherever he goes that is unparalleled. Can you imagine him as the first base coach for the Yankees next season, all pumped up with every base hit, line drive or blooper, it doesn’t matter because the hitter has just made a contribution to the team’s winning effort.
That’s the way Swisher played the game, and it’s also the reason why Yankees fans gravitate to him. Young talent, like the organization, has assembled, have a built-in high level of energy and optimism that Swisher will feed on and embellish.
Swisher’s appearance as a guest instructor may or may not be a test run on the part of the Yankees to gauge if he has the right stuff to remain in a coaching capacity with the team. But if it’s not, it should be. Because 2018 means even more to the Yankees than the upcoming season, and don’t kid yourself, it does. And the time to prepare for then is now. Brian, are you listening?