Yankees at Indians: Familiar faces in new places
There might be a few double-takes here at Progressive Field this afternoon, as we all get a look at some very familiar names in strange new uniforms. By now, we’re used to seeing Travis Hafner in his new Yankees colors, but that probably isn’t the case for the sellout crowd expected on hand here for the Indians’ home opener.
By contrast, it’s still a little odd to see Nick Swisher yukking it up taking ground balls at first base in Cleveland red and blue, and also strange to see Terry Francona perched atop the back of the Indians’ batting cage. Jason Giambi in an Indians warmup doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense, either, but we’ll all get through this together.
Swisher met with the media this morning here in Cleveland and was his usual self, wearing a t-shirt that said “Awesome Amazingness” — surprise, surprise, Swisher boasted that he had designed it himself. While he said that he has moved on and is happy to be with the Indians (he signed a four-year, $56 million deal in December), Swisher acknowledged with a little prodding that it “hurt” not to receive an offer from the Yankees after last season.
“That team was amazing. The city was amazing,” Swisher said. “You guys [media] were amazing to me. My teammates were so great to me, and when you are in a place for four years, that’s a long time in baseball. You develop some relationships. Sometimes when you leave, that’s not exactly what you want to do sometimes. But the way that Cleveland has come in and approached the situation and treated me like a king over here, I just could not be more honored to be putting the uniform on for them every single day.”
Hafner received a standing ovation during his last at-bat for the Indians in 2012 and said that he was not sure it would be his last with Cleveland. The Indians did show some late interest in bringing him back, but by then Hafner had already made up his mind that he was going to head to the Yankees and try to assault the short right field porch at Yankee Stadium.
“Not every roster can have a full-time DH,” Hafner said. “There was some interest on both sides but I wasn’t exactly sure how it would play out, if there would be space or whatever. The opportunity with the Yankees came up, I talked to a lot of people and it seemed like a great fit for me with the ballpark and the franchise and having a chance to play with Hall of Famers and really good leaders. It’s something I was looking forward to.”
There will be a cool pregame ceremony here in which several Indians will receive ceremonial first pitches from their fathers. Taking part will be: Terry and Tito Francona, Sandy Alomar Jr. & Sr., Nick and Steve Swisher, Michael and Mickey Brantley and Zach and Steve McAllister.
First pitch is set for 4:05 p.m. ET Lineups for both teams and expanded game information is available via MLB GameDay.