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Swisher still working back from knee surgery

KANSAS CITY -- When the Indians last visited the Royals in early May, outfielder-first baseman Nick Swisher returned to the lineup for the first time in nine months.

Swisher went 1-for-11 in that three-game series, not unexpected for a player returning from double-knee surgery. Neither was going hitless in four at-bats in Tuesday night's 2-1 win at Kauffman Stadium, including once with runners on second and third.

"It's knee surgery, man; it's no joke," said Swisher, who underwent surgery last August. "I think for me it's just trying to get back in the flow of it, trying to figure out who I am again and what type of player I'm going to be."

Given how well the Tribe has played of late -- winning 11 of its last 14 games entering Wednesday -- Swisher is just happy for the opportunity to contribute in any way he can.

Swisher had spent all but one of his 24 games back as the designated hitter, playing once in right field against the Rangers on May 17. Only in Tuesday's rematch with the Royals did he eclipse 80 at-bats, batting .217 (18-for-83) with four doubles, two homers and seven RBIs with 21 strikeouts entering Wednesday's middle game.

"I think he's done a really good job of being able to play, and he knows he's still trying to get stronger and get better, but he's been really conscientious about it." manager Terry Francona said. "That's what you ask."

Ask him about his stats, and Swisher won't be able to say much other than that every game is a small transition back.

"I know it's going to take awhile for it to feel back at that full 100 percent, might even be next year," Swisher said. "Now that I'm back to being healthy again, I've just got to transfer all that hard work I put in off the field and transfer it on the field."

But ask Swisher about the rest of his team, he will likely flash a big grin and start gushing about the club's starting pitching or late-game offense.

"I've been in this game 12 years," Swisher said. "For me, just to be a part of this, to put Cleveland on the map where we know we can be. Our confidence level is through the roof.

"This is something I hope we can keep going and stretch on through the rest of the season."

Brantley out of lineup

Left fielder Michael Brantley was not in the starting lineup on on Wednesday.

Brantley, whose two-out single in the eighth inning on Tuesday night scored Jason Kipnis with the decisive run, was replaced by Ryan Raburn in left.

"I just thought it would be really good for [Brantley]," Francona said. "I think he's a bit beat up. I just told him, 'I just think he's a little beat up, and I think a day of not playing will be good for him.' That's kind of how I feel. I don't think he was too happy about it, but when he's back in there, I'll feel better."

Jordan Wilson is an associate reporter for
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