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CLEVELAND (AP) — Nick Swisher took a break from playing Mr. Mom to get back in his baseball uniform.
Swisher, who underwent season-ending surgery on both knees last month, rejoined the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday for the final few days of a year he wished he could start over. He was excited to be back around his teammates, who stayed in playoff contention while he was at home recovering from his operations.
"Man, I just wanted to get back here," Swisher said Wednesday before the Indians, their playoff hopes nearly gone, wrapped up their series with Kansas City. "So just to be able to get back and see the guys, just to see where we've come. We've dealt with a lot of injuries, so to be at the end of the season right now and to be playing meaningful games, I couldn't be more proud of these guys. I just wish I could've been with them through the end."
The 33-year-old Swisher said his knees began bothering him in the final days of spring training in March, when the Indians were in San Diego. However, he played through the pain, and his performance suffered. Swisher, who had only been on the disabled list once before in his career, was batting just .208 with eight home runs and 42 RBIs in 97 games.
It was hardly the return the Indians were looking for from Swisher, who signed a four-year, $56 million free contract with Cleveland before last season.
Swisher could have opted for surgery earlier, but he tried to fight through it and kept playing.
"I've just always kind of been the guy, man, I don't complain a lot about things," he said. "I was brought here to come and play on the field and be here every day, and that's what I wanted to do whether I was hurt or I wasn't. I'm never going to be one of those guys that says I can't do something. So, I think that looking back on it, maybe this should've been handled a little earlier. But hey, man, you live and you learn."
Swisher feels much better since the surgeries, "there was just a lot of debris floating around, a lot of things that shouldn't have been there." He's still building back strength in his knees through physical therapy, but he got a big mental lift just being back in Cleveland's clubhouse.
"It makes me so happy just to be back and see everybody," he said. "I know I've got a little road ahead of me. My game plan is to be ready for the first day of spring training."
As the Indians stayed in contention, Swisher was confined to relaxing at home, unable to help his teammates.
It was tough watching Cleveland's games on TV, but the time away gave him a greater appreciation of being a major leaguer and allowed him to spend more time with his infant daughter.
"In the morning, I'm Mr. Mom," he said. "In the afternoon, I'm rehab guy. And at night I'm Mr. Mom again. It's been nice to spend a lot of time with my daughter. She's growing up fast. I know that she and my family, they both know that I wanted to get back here as soon as possible."
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