Nick Swisher has not had a very good season, his second as the Indians’ full-time first baseman. He has not only struggled at the plate, but has been hampered by injuries and played poor defense at first. As a result, Indians GM Chris Antonelli suggested Swisher could move back to the outfield next season.
Via Paul Hoynes on Cleveland.com:
“Just to rewind a little bit . . .the plan coming into this season was for Nick to play a lot of first base. So he prepared in the offseason and spring training to do that and not play a lot outfield.
“Going into next year the plan could be different. Giving him that head’s up and allowing him the offseason to go out and prepare to be an outfielder, come into camp, get the reps in the outfield that will prepare him better for the season.”
Swisher has played some outfield this season, including starts in each of the last two games, but hasn’t played there regularly since 2012, his last season with the Yankees. The 33-year-old will be entering the second year of a four-year, $56 million contract signed with the Indians in December 2012.
The Blue Jays have shut down left fielder Steve Pearce for the remainder of the season following a lingering case of lower back stiffness. Pearce has not appeared in a game since September 8, when he was forced to exit in the first inning after experiencing back pain during his at-bat. Per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, he’s scheduled to return to Florida next week, where he’ll receive epidural injections to address the pain.
Pearce, 34, impressed in his first season with Toronto. He battled through a calf injury during the first half of the season and finished the year with a modest .252/.319/.438 batting line, 13 home runs and a .757 OPS through 348 PA. By September, the Blue Jays started testing the waters with outfield prospect Teoscar Hernandez, who shouldered the bulk of the starts in left field after Pearce was sidelined with back issues.
With the Blue Jays all but eliminated from playoff contention, however, there’s no rush to get Pearce back to the outfield. He should be in fine shape to compete for another starting role in spring, and could face stiff competition from Hernandez if the rookie continues building on his .278 average and three home runs this month. The veteran outfielder is slated to receive the remaining $6.25 million on his contract in 2018 and will be eligible for free agency in 2019.
Brewers’ minor league infielder Julio Mendez remains in “critical but stable condition,” club GM David Stearns announced Friday. Back in August, Mendez suffered a cardiac event after he was inadvertently struck by a ball from the Angels’ Austin Krzeminksi during a game between the rookie-level affiliates. The 20-year-old was removed to a Phoenix-area hospital for treatment following the incident and has recently been transferred to a hospital in his native Venezuela.
Mendez was in his fourth season with the Brewers’ organization. He spent the majority of his 2017 run with the rookie-level AZL Brewers, slashing .255/.294/.355 with 10 extra-base hits, 16 RBI and four stolen bases over 119 plate appearances. He currently holds a career .241/.324/.309 batting line, 33 extra bases and a .633 OPS through 668 PA.
Baseball is still on the back burner, however, as Mendez appears to have made little progress nearly a month following the hit by pitch. Thoughts go out to his family during this difficult time.