Indians pull out stops for free agent Nick Swisher

Indians pull out stops for free agent Nick Swisher

CLEVELAND (AP) The Indians called upon a proven recruiter to land free agent outfielder Nick Swisher.

Former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel was among a group who had lunch on Tuesday at Progressive Field with Swisher, who is considering a multiyear contract offer from the Indians. Swisher would immediately fill a hole in right field for Cleveland, which traded Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati last week and has been trying to improve a team that collapsed in August and finished 68-94.

The 32-year-old Swisher, who spent the past four seasons with the New York Yankees, arrived in Cleveland on Tuesday night and went to dinner with new manager Terry Francona, team president Mark Shapiro and general manager Chris Antonetti. Last week, Antonetti said he intended to add a ``corner'' outfielder and the Indians are pulling out all the stops to add Swisher.

He and his wife, actress JoAnna Garcia, who is expecting the couple's first child in May, arrived at Progressive Field at 10:15 a.m. and toured the club's family room. They were shown a suite and the team's clubhouse before the Indians tugged at Swisher's Ohio State connections to convince him Cleveland should be his next baseball home. Swisher played baseball for the Buckeyes.

The Indians played a video on their scoreboard that featured current Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer and basketball coach Thad Matta, who encouraged Swisher to join the Indians. Swisher was moved by the gesture and didn't expect to see Tressel at lunch in the stadium's Terrace Club.

Tressel won a national title at Ohio State but was forced to resign amid a scandal. His new position is Akron's vice president of strategic engagement.

Following the lunch, which also included Francona, Swisher met with Shapiro and members of the club's marketing department. He left at 2:45 p.m. without giving the Indians an answer. Swisher is expected to visit with other teams before making a decision. Seattle, Philadelphia, Boston and San Francisco are among the teams who have shown interest in him.

``It was great to connect,'' Antonetti said. ``We had a chance to share our thoughts on the organization and where we are, and were able to answer any questions he may have had.''

A switch-hitter, Swisher batted .272 with 24 homers and 93 RBIs in 148 games last season, his fourth with the New York Yankees.

The Indians have been in the market for an outfielder throughout the offseason. They offered Shane Victorino a four-year contract worth a reported $44 million before he signed a three-year, $39 million deal with Boston.

Also, Cleveland officially signed free agent first baseman Mark Reynolds to a one-year, $6 million deal. He spent the past two seasons with Baltimore, batting .221 with 23 homers and 69 RBIs in 135 games last season.

``We feel Mark provides a great balance to our lineup, a right-handed hitter with some power, with the ability to get on base,'' Antonetti said. ``We feel he will help our offense.''

Reynolds passed a physical last week but his signing couldn't be announced until the Indians made a 40-man roster move. The club designated infielder Russ Canzler for assignment.

Britton feeling much better, looks to pitch this week

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Britton feeling much better, looks to pitch this week

BALTIMORE – Zach Britton had an MRI on his left ankle Monday, and no damage was found, and three days after injuring the ankle, he says he’s nearly ready to return. 

“I feel good today, walking a lot better. So, pretty much normal. I’m going to go out there and play catch. Just take it easy, baby steps. If it feels good playing catch, maybe I can progress to flat ground,” Britton said. 

He’d like to pitch on the homestand that concludes Sunday. 

“I think this week is a good timeline. It’s not going to be today, but I’m not sure if it’s going to be tomorrow or the next day,” Britton said.

Britton wasn’t available for comment after he injured the ankle on Saturday night, and looked a lot better than he did on Sunday when he used crutches and a soft boot.

“I feel a lot better. I think flexibility, range of motion is back. It’s just swollen. It’s got some bruising but as long as i can manage the pain. It think that’s going to be the biggest issue right now is does it hurt me doing baseball things? Covering first, fielding a bunt, or whatnot. Those are things that I’m going to have to test out. Whether it’s today, I’m not sure. I’m just going to go out there and play catch and see how it goes,” Britton said.

RELATED: WILL MACHADO MOVE TO SHORTSTOP WHILE HARDY IS OUT?

NOTES: Hunter Harvey, the Orioles No. 1 draft pick in 2013 who hasn’t pitched competitively since July 2014, underwent sports hernia surgery in Philadelphia. He’s expected to be out from four to six weeks. 

Manager Buck Showalter isn’t concerned about Harvey’s long absence from pitching. 

“I think if he pitches from June, July on and finishes up strong like we think he can, I think he’s OK. But you’d really like to see him get the ball every fifth day at some point there and kind of get some of that experience he needs to finish off some things,” Showalter said.

-Yovani Gallardo, who’s been on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder and rotator cuff tendinitis, is improving. 

“He’s doing good. I’m very optimistic on the return we’re going to get on some of the things he’s doing. He’s moving towards throwing before too long,” Showalter said.

-LHP Jeff Beliveau, who labrum surgery a year ago, has been assigned to Frederick. Beliveau, who pitched for the Cubs and Rays, has intrigued Showalter, and could pitch for the Orioles later this season. 

-INF/OF Jimmy Paredes is batting .318 in six rehab games for Bowie and Frederick. Paredes’ rehab stint for his left wrist injury ends on May 15.

MORE ORIOLES: HARDY WON'T PUT DATE ON EXPECTED RETURN

Will Machado move to shortstop while Hardy is out?

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Will Machado move to shortstop while Hardy is out?

BALTIMORE – Ryan Flaherty was in the original starting lineup at shortstop and Manny Machado at third base for Tuesday night’s game against the Yankees.

About 40 minutes after the lineup came out, Machado was listed as the shortstop and Flaherty at third base. 

Machado came to talk with manager Buck Showalter about the lineup change. 

“I talked to Manny in detail about it, got his feelings about it. This is the way we’re going to go tonight,” Showalter said. 

“Manny made the case he wants the Orioles to win. That’s all we talked about. What all this about [is] ‘if you want me to play third, I’ll play third. If you want me to play short, I’ll play short.’ He’s in.”

Last year, Machado started seven games at shortstop when J.J. Hardy was on the disabled list with a groin injury.

Flaherty and Paul Janish also played there. He played there twice when Hardy was out last month. 

Those were the first games Machado, who played shortstop exclusively until coming to the Orioles in Aug. 2012, had played there since. 

Flaherty subbed for Machado at third in late 2014, too.

Showalter said that Pedro Alvarez, who played there on Sunday after Hardy left the game, with an injury, is an option at third base.

“He’s played more third base than Manny has. There’s some options there. I’d like to keep them all open. I’d also like to keep from moving guys around a lot,” Showalter said. 

Flaherty, who was surprisingly sent down to Norfolk eight days ago when the Orioles wanted 13 pitchers, is happy to be back. 

“Every day up here is a good opportunity. Every time you have a chance to help the team in whatever way it is, then that’s a good opportunity,” Flaherty said. 

Flaherty hit .421 in five games with the Tides. 

Showalter is uncomfortable with a three-man bench, and the Orioles could add Janish after his wife delivers the couple’s third child this week. 

“We’d all rather get back to 12 [pitchers] and four on the bench. It’s been tough,” Showalter said. 

Hardy won't put date on expected return

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Hardy won't put date on expected return

BALTIMORE –- Buck Showalter knew J.J. Hardy was hurt during the fifth inning of Sunday’s game. A half-inning earlier, Hardy had fouled a ball off his left foot.

Showalter was removing Ubaldo Jimenez from the game, and he asked the shortstop about the foot. He said: ‘This is strange. It’s gotten real stiff and sore in a hurry.’’’

Hardy left the game after the fifth inning, and a CT Scan and MRI on Monday revealed a hairline fracture in his left foot. 

Neither nor Hardy nor the Orioles have spoken about how long he’s been out, but an industry source estimated on Monday he’d be out four to six weeks. For now, Hardy will be in a walking boot for two to three weeks. Others have estimated he could miss as long as eight weeks. 

“I had an idea after the game or when I came out of the game that something wasn’t right,” Hardy said. “Then, obviously with the X-ray, there was something they wanted to see closer. They kind of gave me a little heads-up that something could be wrong.”

Hardy missed 48 games last year and had two stints on the disabled list with a left shoulder and groin injuries. 

“After I fouled the ball off my foot, I didn’t think too much of it,” Hardy said. “I mean it hurt, but it wasn’t terrible. I jogged to first base and kind of felt the same thing, nothing terrible. Then when I got out in the field and the more I moved around, the worse it was getting instead of loosening up or going away. So, I knew it was something.” 

While he’s missed time, Hardy has never had a broken bone before. He’s not sure whether he’ll stay with the Orioles or rehab in Sarasota.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” Hardy said. “I’ve been feeling as good as I can remember. I mean I don’t know the last time that I’ve felt this good. It’s definitely frustrating. I am just going to try and get back as soon as possible.”

RELATED: Chris Tillman starts as Orioles begin life without J.J. Hardy