Slumping Swisher in lineup for Game 6
Girardi considered change but stuck with right fielder
NEW YORK -- Nick Swisher sauntered to his locker Friday, opened up a pair of Louisville Slugger boxes storing new bats and turned to the cluster of reporters slowly encroaching.
"Let's get this over with," Swisher said with a smile.
Swisher was still upbeat a day after he went 0-for-5 and popped up with the bases loaded to end Game 5 of the American League Championship Series. Eager to turn the page and break out of a postseason slump, Swisher was one of the first Yankees to arrive in the clubhouse for the team's optional workout, although catcher Jorge Posada later admitted that "in the postseason, it's not optional."
"For me personally, it was a long flight," Swisher said of the cross-country trip from Anaheim. "You get up in those situations and you want to come through. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't. Today's a new day, and tomorrow's a new game."
Swisher went 0-for-Anaheim in New York's past three games, and he's now 3-for-29 in the playoffs, with just one RBI. He stranded four runners in Game 5, three of whom were in scoring position. His continuing struggles at the bottom of the Yankees' order had manager Joe Girardi contemplating a lineup switch on Friday.
"We'll sleep on it, and we'll make a decision what we're going to do," Girardi said. "But Swisher is a good player and Swisher has done a lot of good things for us this year. And you look at the matchup against [Angels Game 6 starter Joe] Saunders -- he's had some hits off of Saunders."
After sleeping on it, Girardi announced his decision today: Swisher is in the lineup, batting eighth.
Swisher did have a walk and one of his two hits in this ALCS off Saunders in Game 2. In his career, he's 5-for-21 off the Angels southpaw, with four walks, a home run and six RBIs.
Girardi could have gone with either Jerry Hairston Jr. or Brett Gardner in Swisher's place. Hairston scored the winning run after a pinch-hit single in Game 2, but he has not started in right field for the Yankees since being acquired from the Reds at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Gardner had only 55 at-bats this season against left-handed pitching and has never faced Saunders.
Girardi also could have flipped Swisher with Melky Cabrera at the bottom of the order; Cabrera has five hits in the past two games.
"It's not just one guy necessarily that you think about," Girardi said Friday. "You think about where you might put the parts. Do you flip-flop guys? I don't ever really rush into decisions, because the one thing about the playoffs is you usually have a lot of time to think about it."
Swisher himself is taking his own measures to remedy his slump, like getting to Yankee Stadium early on Friday and cracking open that package from Louisville Slugger. The new bats are a little heavier -- a shift more strategic than superstitious, he said.
"It takes one swing to get back on track," Swisher said. "It's one of those things where you want to do well, but it just hasn't happened. Sometime it's going to happen."
The Yankees hope that sometime is soon. After all, like Swisher with that group of reporters, they want to get this ALCS over with.
Tim Britton is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.