September 20, 2014

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Arthroscopic surgery on both knees ends disappointing season for Indians’ Nick Swisher

Nick Swisher

Nick Swisher

CLEVELAND — Another unproductive and injury-plagued season will come to an end prematurely for Indians first baseman Nick Swisher.

Swisher, who was batting a career-low .208 with only eight home runs and 42 RBIs in 97 games, underwent arthroscopic surgery on both knees Wednesday in Los Angeles. He had been on the disabled list with right knee soreness since Aug. 10.

Swisher, 33, was examined by Dr. Rick Parker at the Cleveland Clinic on Aug. 11, with the Indians announcing that he would seek a second opinion in Los Angeles from the Dodgers’ team physician, Dr. Neil ElAttrache.

ElAttrache concurred with Parker on Tuesday and performed a procedure the following day that is expected to sideline Swisher for 8-10 weeks. According to doctors, meniscus wear and tear is the cause.

Swisher, who signed a four-year contract worth $56 million prior to last season, also spent time on the injured list from May 27-June 11 with a knee ailment. He battled a shoulder injury and hit just .246 with 22 homers and 63 RBIs in 145 games of his debut season with the Indians last year.

“I think he’ll be real motivated (in 2015),” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said of Swisher prior to Wednesday’s game in Minnesota. “Regardless of how much money you made or whatever, guys want to be good players. There’s a lot of pride.

“He’s going to have his work cut out for him this winter. Hopefully, he’s getting a head start on it — which I think is good.”

Though the Indians were expecting much more of him, Swisher was one of Cleveland’s top offensive players in 2013, leading the team in homers, while ranking third with a .763 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage).

This year has been different, with Swisher, who is making $15 million, leading the Indians with 111 strikeouts in 360 at-bats. He was also a liability defensively, committing nine errors in 52 games at first base before moving to designated hitter and the outfield.

Swisher is scheduled to make $15 million in each of the final two seasons — 2015-16 — of his contract with the Indians. There is a $14 million vesting option for 2017, with Swisher guaranteeing the salary by making 550 plate appearances in 2016 and passing a physical examination at the end of that season.

Despite injuries to Swisher and other key players, such as center fielder Michael Bourn, the third-place Indians have remained in contention in the Central Division and the American League wild-card race. They entered Wednesday trailing Kansas City by 6½ games in the division standings and were 4½ games out of the final wild-card spot.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him @CAwesomeheimer on Twitter.

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