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Swisher avoids shoulder surgery, says he's ready

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Nick Swisher battled an ailing left shoulder for most of last season, creating questions about whether surgery was going to be necessary. The Indians' energetic first baseman believes he found the cure for the issue over the winter.

"That surgery thing, that was definitely something that was like, 'Is this going to happen?'" said Swisher, who then cracked a grin. "But going home and being Mr. Mom, doing all the household duties, man, I just strengthened my shoulder. Just being a dad, man, it's been the greatest thing that's ever happened."

All kidding aside, Swisher, who welcomed a daughter into his family during last season, was relieved to avoid any kind of operation. Indians manager Terry Francona said he never worried about that possibility, but the first baseman's offensive struggles between May and August were, at least in part, due to the shoulder issue.

Swisher said a little rest, combined with the detailed strength and conditioning program that was implemented during last season, was all that he needed. While he fought the injury, Swisher did all he could to stay in the lineup for the Tribe.

"I'm a guy that always takes a lot of pride in being on the field," Swisher said. "If everything is intact, I'm going to be out there. I feel that I want to be out there fighting with my guys."

Out of necessity at times, Swisher bounced between right field and first base last season, but the switch-hitter enters this year solely as the first baseman. If Swisher mans the outfield at all this spring, Francona said it would only be in the latter stages of the spring game schedule.

In 145 games last season, Swisher posted a .246 average, .341 on-base percentage and .423 slugging percentage, which were his lowest marks in each category since 2008. He still led the Indians with 22 home runs and ended the year with 27 doubles and 63 RBIs.

"Regardless of the numbers, man," Swisher said, "I was so proud of what the organization accomplished. That's what it boils down to."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.
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