video thumbnail

CLE@TOR: Swisher singles for his first Indians hit

It's safe to say that Nick Swisher can't wait to trot out onto the diamond on Monday afternoon in front of his former Yankees teammates, who will occupy the visitors' dugout at Progressive Field.

"Oh, man, that's going to be the jam," Swisher said. "How much fun is that going to be? I mean, Opening Day sold out in six minutes? I think it's great, man. This city is so excited for us this year. There's a buzz in the 216 [Cleveland area code], man, and we're super excited to get back there."

Swisher sported pinstripes for the last four years before joining the Indians on a four-year, $56 million contract this offseason. He was a model of consistency in New York, playing in at least 148 games with at least 23 home runs and 82 RBIs each season. He earned an All-Star Game nod in 2010.

Swisher won't be the only one playing before his old cohorts this week when the Indians and Yankees meet in a four-game clash beside Lake Erie. Travis Hafner, who spent the last 10 years with Cleveland, will face the Tribe for the first time since inking a one-year pact with New York over the winter. Hafner clubbed 200 home runs during his decade-long tenure with the Indians.

"I think it'll be fun to go back there and see everybody," Hafner said. "I've known the front office for a long time, teammates, clubhouse workers, guys who work at the stadium who I've gotten to be good friends with. Really, just a bunch of people would be good to see."

Hafner, whose wife and children still live in Cleveland, said he's looking forward to sleeping at his own home. The one area he won't be as familiar with is the visitors' clubhouse.

"I guess when you play baseball long enough," Hafner said, "you're used to switching teams and [having] different teammates and stuff like that."

The Indians sold out of tickets for Monday's home opener in six minutes. The fathers of manager Terry Francona, Michael Brantley, Swisher, Sandy Alomar Jr. and Zach McAllister will toss ceremonial first pitches to their sons prior to the contest. Ubaldo Jimenez is scheduled to throw the game's first pitch at 4:05 p.m. ET.

Yankees: Kuroda ready to go
Hiroki Kuroda, who will oppose Jimenez, exited his first start of the season on Wednesday after a line drive struck -- and subsequently bruised -- his right middle finger. An X-ray and CT scan showed no fracture or other damage, and the 38-year-old has received ice, tape and laser treatment to temper the discomfort.

"I'd have to say I don't feel normal [to not pitch]," Kuroda said. "I feel a little discomfort there. It's a batted ball that hit my hand in my fingers, so that's natural, I think."

Indians: Giambi to return Tuesday
• Francona said designated hitter Jason Giambi -- a former Yankee -- should be activated from the disabled list prior to Tuesday's tilt against New York. The 42-year-old has been shelved with a back injury.

"I think he's going to be fine," Francona said. "He's able to be activated on Tuesday, and I don't see any reason that won't happen."

• Jimenez looked like a completely new pitcher Wednesday in Toronto. He limited the Blue Jays' potent lineup to one run on three hits in six innings. Last season, the right-hander posted a 9-17 record and 5.40 ERA.

"I thought he was outstanding," Francona said. "His secondary stuff, his direction to the plate, down, everything. He left the ball over the plate to [Maicer] Izturis. Other than that, his offspeed -- his changeup and breaking ball, especially his changeup -- was really good."

Worth noting
• The Yankees won five of six meetings with the Indians last season.

• The Indians will miss their former pitcher, CC Sabathia, who started Sunday in Detroit. Andy Pettitte, Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes are slated to pitch the last three games of the series. Comments