Swisher excited to return to Oakland
White Sox slugger spent first four big league seaons with A's
CHICAGO -- Nick Swisher was watching a broadcast out of Oakland featuring the Rays-A's contest late Wednesday night, when the telecast ran a few promotional announcements to remind the fans of the White Sox arrival at McAfee Coliseum this weekend.
"They had a couple of commercials on television, saying 'Swish is back,'" said Swisher with a laugh, while talking about his return to Oakland.
"It's going to be awesome. I'm excited to go back and see a lot of people. I really enjoyed my time there."
Rarely has a day gone by during the 2008 campaign when Swisher hasn't featured his trademark upbeat point of view, even as he has battled through the throes of an inconsistent offensive showing that had him sitting with a .233 average entering Thursday's day off. But returning on Friday to the place where Swisher began his Major League career left the switch-hitter even more frenzied than his usual high-energy persona allows.
Swisher, 27, played parts of four seasons with Oakland, beginning in 2004, knocking out 80 home runs and posting 255 RBIs during his tenure. He looked to be the cornerstone of the always-changing franchise after agreeing to a five-year, $26.75 million deal, with a 2012 option, in May 2007.
But those plans changed for Oakland, much to Swisher's surprise, when he was traded this past January to the White Sox in exchange for outfielder Ryan Sweeney and pitchers Gio Gonzalez and Fautino De Los Santos. Although Swisher would be considered anything but an old man, even by baseball standards, he got swept away in Oakland's extreme youth movement.
"In that situation, I guess I thought differently than they did," Swisher said. "But coming over here and playing for a first-place team, I don't think you could ask for anything more.
"[Oakland general manager] Billy [Beane] knows what he's doing. They have their new ballpark coming up, and I think they are getting ready for that move."
Sweeney, who was placed on the disabled list Wednesday with a sprained right thumb, has been productive for the A's with a .287 average, four home runs and 37 RBIs. Gonzalez will face the White Sox on Sunday afternoon in the final contest of the brief three-game road trip.
As for Swisher, he has bounced back from a miserable start to produce 17 home runs and drive in 55. He also leads the American League in pitchers per at-bat at 4.52, and ranks sixth with his 70 walks.
More importantly, the charismatic leader that helped Oakland to three winning seasons in the four years he was there, including a spot in the 2006 American League Championship Series, hasn't changed. He fondly remembers his time in Oakland, but has found a new home in Chicago.
"I could not be [happier] with the situation I've been put in over here in Chicago," said Swisher, who has faced Oakland in five games at home this season. "Not only the team and the owners, but the fans, have been absolutely great.
"Going back to the place where I started, I think it will be good. I'm really excited."
Almost as exciting for Swisher as playing again in Oakland is getting the chance to stay in the house he purchased shortly before getting traded. Eric Chavez was staying in the residence, but it's currently vacant and waiting for Swisher's arrival. Oakland's fans probably are just as excited to welcome a favorite son back home.
"The fans are great out there, as well," Swisher said. "I did a lot of great things out there, and I think the reception will be great, I really do.
"If I get a big hit, then they might boo me," added Swisher with a laugh. "Who knows?"
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.