Swish slumping, Francona considers altering order
MINNEAPOLIS -- Nick Swisher has been stuck in a prolonged slump of late, but Indians manager Terry Francona has kept the first baseman in the cleanup spot.
On Sunday, Francona indicated that he is considering shifting Swisher into the lineup's second spot -- an idea the manager also toyed with earlier in the season. Francona has hesitated to make the move due to the alignment of the batting order.
"I've given that a ton of thought," Francona said.
Francona does not want to move hot-hitting Jason Kipnis out of the lineup's third spot, and center fielder Michael Bourn has a home in the leadoff slot. The No. 2 role currently belongs to switch-hitter Asdrubal Cabrera, who helps split up the lefties (Bourn and Kipnis). Swisher also switch-hits, but Francona does not want to move Cabrera lower in the order.
"There have been times where I've thought about hitting him second," Francona said of Swisher. "He's always going to have his on-base skills -- that never goes away. But I guess I keep falling back on, I don't want to move Kip. ... I think when you're in the cleanup spot, you get pitched a little differently. I think Swish is finding that out. I guess if somebody could handle it, I'd want him to be the one."
Entering Sunday, Swisher was hitting .239 with nine home runs and 31 RBIs in 81 games. His .391 slugging percentage is a career low. Over his past 35 games, Swisher batted just .188 with a .566 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
Part of the problem has been a nagging left shoulder issue, which will likely persist throughout the second half. Francona does not believe that is the only factor behind Swisher's slump, though.
"I think that his shoulder won't be 100 percent all year," Francona said. "That's something he has to deal with. I just think it's probably been a lot of things. I think there's been times when he's tried to do too much, because he's pretty conscientious. He wants to put his team on his shoulders, and I think sometimes you just need to play the game.
"I tried to remind him of that [Saturday] night: 'Just play. That's why we got you. You're a good player.' Guys try to do too much out of caring. It's a good quality, but it can get you in a rut."