MOOSIC — Nick Swisher lives in Los Angeles these days, but once a month he makes a trip to one of the New York Yankees’ minor league affiliates.
First up was the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and some frigid temps.
Despite the cold, the Yankees special advisor couldn’t have been happier. Even if that meant spending Sunday and Monday standing in the RailRiders dugout dressed head-to-toe in a hooded sweatshirt, knit hat, neck-up and white pinstripe pants.
“I think for myself, just have the opportunity to be back in the organization and I guess, in a sense, maybe, have an opinion on something,” Swisher said. “The bottom line is I’m so happy to be a part of a family to me. I’m going to have this opportunity to go around and help these younger guys reach their dreams. That’s what it’s all about.
“The guys were laughing after the game, and they were like, ‘Swish, man, we’re going to give you credit because ain’t no specialist needs to come down here and sit through that game.’ But that’s the thing, this is something I want to do and to be able to have that opportunity, man, I’m going to give everything I got for that.”
Swisher is back visiting the team for which he last played.
As he attempted his comeback, the former major league played in 55 games for the RailRiders in 2016, hitting .255 with seven home runs in 25 RBI.
While Brady Lail and Kyle Higashioka are the only former teammates still in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre clubhouse, Swisher is excited to be back in the minors again. Especially in this new role.
He’s eager to meet and familiarize himself with this batch of RailRiders, and ultimately help them get better.
“I feel like once this game gets in you, man, gets in your heart, it doesn’t ever really leave,” said the 2016 RailRider. “I think for myself to be able to have the relationships that I have with everyone here and to be able to come back and to do your best to help and win championships, that’s what I want to do.
“My thing is to just try to be positive because sometimes this can be a grind. I mean, it is 39 degrees outside right now. I think early in the season, for me, just to be able to come here and kind of get my marching orders from the boss up top. It’s a lot of fun for me and just enjoying it.”
Swisher’s personality suites him well for his new role.
He was rarely the star of his team and had to grind during his time in the majors. That tenacity is something he hopes rubs off on the players he works with.
“These are the guys that I want to work with,” Swisher said. “These are the guys that might need a little more love working there way up, and also, too, I think the Yankee organization means so much to me and I feel that if you can get these guys at such a young age and teach them the right way about going about things that definitely helps things moving forward because that ‘NY,’ man, it means something and it stands for something.
“I can relate to a lot of these guys because it’s not always easy and it’s not always easy getting to where you want to go. To be able to maybe be a guy that they can bounce things off of because I’m not the manager here. I’m just trying to make everyone better.”
Timing is everything for Swisher, who is also an analyst for FOX Sports.
While he doesn’t see coaching in his immediate future — Swisher’s focus is on his family these days — the former RailRider definitely can see it in his future. It is in his blood after all.
Swisher’s father, Steve, is was a minor league manager.
“I feel like this is a start and moving in the right direction,” Swisher said. “In a day and age now where relating to players is a crucial thing, that’s a big thing that I have going for myself and I also feel like being able to learn the game from all the angles, that’s only going to help me moving in the future.
“Not only being able to learn from this game as a player’s side, but last year and continuing to learn this game from the media side, but also having the ability to learn it from the front office side — it’s a different thought process and I’m getting the opportunity to learn and I love that.”
Hicks joins RailRiders
While he wasn’t in the lineup against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks joined the RailRiders on Monday.
Hicks, who has been on the 10-day disabled list since March 30 with a right intercostal muscle strain, is scheduled to play five innings at center field on Tuesday before playing a full nine innings on Wednesday. The 28-year-old outfielder will be re-evaluated after that and will likely re-join the Yankees.
“It feels good. Body feels good. Swing feels good,” Hicks said. “Just being able to be outside and take (batting practice), be around the team — it feels good.”
Torres playing second and third
With the Yankees taking a hit in their infield depth at the major league level, RailRiders infielder Gleyber Torres will mainly play second and third base moving forward.
Torres will still mix in some shortstop but second and third will be the focus, according to Bobby Mitchell.
The Yankees top prospect made his 2018 debut at second base after playing short Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s first three games.
“I think it’s primarily from a need in the big leagues — if they need somebody. Obviously Didi (Gregorius’) has done a great job and he’s pretty solid — and the other guys, too,” Mitchell said. “But if something was to happen, I think they’re expecting him to come up and play third or second. So we’re going to try to get him as much action there as possible.”