Indians not expecting Swisher to be ready for opener

GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) Indians manager Terry Francona said he doesn’t expect slugger Nick Swisher to be ready for the team’s April 6 season opener at Houston.

Swisher underwent surgery on both knees in August and has been slower to recover than expected. Swisher only began running the bases last week and is expected to play in a minor league game on Wednesday.

On Monday, Francona said the chance of Swisher being ready to open the season with the team is slim.

”As it progresses it is a little bit of a reach to think he’d be ready, even in his own mind,” Francona said. ”We want him to be healthy and go off his schedule. The one thing I think he is in such good shape that he has done more running than he probably ever has that some of the things will come quick (as he works into baseball shape).”

Swisher is entering his 11th season in the majors. He has been taking live batting practice since the start of spring training, but Sunday marked the first time he ran the bases without wearing knee braces. He will do more base running and outfield drills on Tuesday.

The Indians are hoping to establish more of a timetable for Swisher to return to the lineup by the end of the week.

Swisher is entering his third season with the Indians. In 97 games last season he batted .208 with eight home runs and 42 RBIs. He started the season at first base before being moved to designated hitter in mid-June and made a couple of appearances in the outfield.

The 34-year-old Swisher hit at least 20 homers in nine straight seasons from 2005-13.