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Swisher providing needed energy, offense

Veteran outfielder staying upbeat during Braves' 12-game skid

WASHINGTON -- As the Braves have endured a down stretch over the past three weeks, Nick Swisher has only strengthened his reputation as an energetic and valuable clubhouse leader. Along the way, Swisher has also provided indication that his surgically repaired knees do not prohibit him from being a consistent offensive threat.

Before playing a part in three of the four runs the Braves scored during Sunday afternoon's 8-4 loss to the Nationals, he entered the visitors' clubhouse at Nationals Park trying to do anything he could to brighten the mood of a club that has now lost 12 straight and 19 of its past 20 games.

"It's nice to feel healthy again and know that you can go out and contribute to your team," Swisher said. "It's been kind of a whirlwind season for me. … But being with this crew right now, I couldn't be more happy. I know things aren't going the way we wanted, but I wouldn't want to be with anybody else right now. We've got a lot of talent in here and we've got to dig deep to find it."

Swisher aired out his frustrations during a brief meeting with his teammates after the Braves suffered their third double-digit loss within a seven-day span on Thursday. But at the same time, he has consistently come to the clubhouse with an upbeat personality and willingness to help the many young members of Atlanta's roster.

"Right now, where we're at is frustrating and tough, but we've got some ballers in here," Swisher said. "We've got some guys in here that can play. We've got to really pick this thing up because you don't want this going into the offseason."

Video: [email protected]: Swisher lifts a sac fly to center field

When the Braves acquired Swisher from the Indians on Aug. 7, there were legitimate concerns about how productive he would be while attempting to get back to the level he was before having surgery on both knees last year.

But as Swisher has batted .378 with a 1.114 OPS over his past 52 plate appearances dating back to Aug. 21, he has given the Braves reason to believe they might be able to rely on him to be a consistent member of their lineup again next year.

"He gives you, day in and day out, tremendous energy and great at-bats," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Whether he draws a walk, gets a base hit or strikes out, he gives you great at-bats. The encouraging thing is we'll watch him for the rest of this month and have him for one more year. When he goes into this offseason and heals up from those knee surgeries, maybe he comes back and we have an even better player."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for
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