The most frustrating season of Nick Swisher’s career ended on Wednesday as the Indians announced that he would be undergoing arthroscopic surgery on both knees today in Los Angeles.
Swisher, was placed on the disabled list on Aug. 10 due to right knee soreness, got a second opinion from Dr. Neil ElAttrache on Tuesday. ElAttrache concurred with the Aug. 11 evaluation by Dr. Rick Parker at the Cleveland Clinic that surgery was the most appropriate course of action.
Swisher has been dealing with chronic medial knee discomfort in both knees as a result of medial meniscus wear and tear. Dr. ElAttrache was scheduled to perform the surgery, which Indians head athletic trainer James Quinlan said was a debridement procedure.
"It was Nick’s choice to do both knees at the same time," Quinlan said in a conference call from Los Angeles on Wednesday. "It shouldn’t increase the rehab time but it means each day will be longer. The wear and tear started to show in late May and early June. He played through the symptoms and there was no sudden event that caused it."
Swisher began the season at first base and batting second. He hit the go-ahead home run in the home opener on April 4 and had a .231 average after the first week of the season. That would be the highest though his average would be for the entire year. With his average hovering at around .200, Terry Francona dropped him to sixth in the order on May 18 as he would bat mostly sixth or seventh for the rest of the season.
After hyperextending his left knee at Chicago, Swisher was placed on the disabled list on May 27. He returned on June 12 but primiarliy was the designated hitter due to Carlos Santana’s stellar play at first and to keep Lonnie Chisenhall in the order at third base. In the 48 games he played after returning, Swisher hit .206 with five home runs and 23 RBI. He did have game-winning homer in extra innings on Father’s Day in Boston and a walk-off, grand slam on June 19 against the Angels but there were also 62 strikeouts in 175 at-bats.
Swisher ends the year with a .208 batting average, which is the lowest of his Major League career, along with 20 doubles, eight home runs and 42 RBI in 97 games. In his two years with the Indians, Swisher is batting .231 with 24 home runs and 105 RBI in 242 games. He has two seasons left on a four-year, $56 million contract that also includes a vesting option for 2017 if he makes 500 plate appearances in ’16 and passes a physical.
"I think he’ll be real motivated (for next season)," Francona told reporters before Wednesday’s game against Minnesota. "Regardless of how much money you make guys want to be good players. He’ll have his work cut out for him this winter but hopefully he is getting a head start on it which is good. Maybe the majority of his winter will almost be kind of normal because he’ll get his rehab out of the way."
ElAttrace told the Indians he is optimistic that Swisher will make a full recovery in 8-10 weeks and that he should be able to resume running and baseball activities after that. Swisher is expected to be at full strength for the start of Spring Training.