Nick Swisher is one confident guy. Not cocky as some have implied, but confident. He simply believes in his abilities and he expects the best from himself.
Swisher played mostly of last season with a bad thumb, yet he still managed nearly 30 home runs for the Sacramento River Cats and two home runs with the A's during a short stint with the team in September.
The kid is very forthcoming, funny and personable. He recently spent some time in Spring Training talking with a group of reporters.
I left Nick's answers to all the questions in just because I found him so entertaining.
Get to know our latest rookie.
Swisher has also agreed to check in with myself and AN throughout his rookie season, so you haven't heard the last from Swisher. Not even close.
Blez: Where does your confidence stem from?
Swisher: I think it boils down to the fact that this game is a game that is based on failure. You tell me another job where you succeed three out of 10 times and be considered one of the greatest. You have to have that kind of confidence. Now, maybe my confidence shines through a little more than others, I don't mean to make any harm by it, but that's me. That's the type of guy I am. I have a true passion for this game. I think you have to have that kind of confidence going into this game and if you don't, it's just going to crush you.
Blez: And that short-term memory so many baseball players talk about.
Swisher: Yeah, and a short-term memory. I remember a wise person once told me, "You've gotta have a short-term memory in this game." He couldn't have been more right. Because whatever happens today, you better be able to put it behind you. And come out tomorrow.
Blez: Was that your Dad that told you that?
Swisher: (Laughs) You're good, man, you're good! My Dad and a couple of the guys I played with last year that have been in the league and they understand. Things like that can really affect you if you let it.
Blez: Have you always had a patient approach at the plate or is that something you learned as you got older? I mean, did you talk a lot of walks in Little League?
Swisher: (Laughs) I don't remember that far back. I don't necessarily think of it as...well, I guess patient would be a good word. But if I get my pitch early, I'm going to go after it. I think selective would more be the word to use. Going through this organization, you have no choice but to be more like that.
Blez: That's part of what made you so valuable to them.
Swisher: Yeah, and going from minor league ball, from rookie ball to Double-A to Triple-A to finally reaching that goal of being in the big leagues, you have all your tools ready. And what the Oakland A's look for is selective, patient hitters. That's something that I've bought into and the benefits are really starting to pay off.
Another media guy: Given the A's history of rookies making a big splash almost immediately, is that a product of the system?
Swisher: I definitely think so. You don't have to go any farther on that one, I definitely think that's the answer. The way young guys are brought up in the system, you know right then and there what's expected of you. The Oakland A's have a philosophy like no other. Just to be a part of that and to have the confidence to buy into something like that, it definitely pays off.
Blez: Have you been able to get Michael Lewis off your tail for a little while?
Swisher: (Laughs) No, I love Mike, man. You know, he wrote that book. I was extremely happy to be a part of that. I can't wait to read the sequel...actually, I haven't even read the first one yet cause I don't really read books. But I'm excited to see what happens with the next one.
A TV Media Guy: Can I ask if you know who this is singing? (Guy plays a tape recording of Zito singing for a long time)
Swisher: Is that Z? Sounds like John Mayer or something. Listen, Z is a very artistic guy. He can flat play the guitar. We're trying to get him to learn some country music, you know, so I can sing along with him. Maybe a little bluegrass or something. I'm going get a harmonica this year. I've got a lot of hot air and stuff. Hopefully I can learn how to play that.
A TV Media Guy: You've got to still be alive in your Final Four bracket. Who do you have?
Swisher: My buddy Charles Thomas is from North Carolina, so I've jumped on the bandwagon. I used to wear the go North Carolina colors growing up, so I might as well stick with them in this tournament. But then my roommate Blanton has Kentucky. I'm kind of torn, you know, I got Thomas and I've got Blanton. But I like Blanton a little better. He's one of my best buddies, you know? CT and I we're getting close though. I don't know, it's either Kentucky or North Carolina. Are they going to play each other Final Four?
A TV Media Guy: Um, ah, Kentucky's, ah, wait, yes, Final Four, yes.
Swisher: I'm going to say Kentucky wins, 87-82. If they even make it. (Laughs)
A TV Media Guy: You guys won a championship game last year (EDITOR'S NOTE: technically, Swisher didn't win the championship with the team because he was with Oakland at the time, but that's semantics), so did you buy yourself anything fun in the offseason? Anything big?
Swisher: I bought a dog. It's a MAN'S dog. His name is Spartacus. Sir Spartacus. He's absolutely phenomenal. Just to go home and have him jumping on you all the time, I mean it's great. My buddy Blanton's got two Bull Mastiffs. One is a 110 pounds and the other is 90 pounds so you go in there, you better keep your knees bent, otherwise that's an ACL waiting to happen.
Blez: Do you feel more comfortable batting lefty or righty?
Swisher: I don't know. I get that question a lot. I don't think it matters. It depends on who's on the mound and how you're feeling at the plate. It just depends on the day, I guess.
Blez: You're going to be playing some first base this year. Do you like right field, first, perhaps center field? I know you played center in Sacramento.
Swisher: I love playing center. I felt like I really got a grip on it last year. It's one of those things though that as long as I'm in the starting lineup, I could care less where I'm playing. Whatever I can do, whatever position the team needs me at, I'm all for that.
Blez: Did you have a player when you were younger, besides your father, that you wanted to emulate?
Swisher: One of my favorite players of all time was Roberto Clemente. I never got to see him play, but I saw highlights and stories my father and my grandfather would always share. I'll tell you what, that guy was an unbelievable player. He put his heart out there every day. Not only that, but the things he did for his home. It really stayed with me.
Another media guy: I know it's only spring training, but can you give an assessment of where the team is so far?
Swisher: We're going to be a young team, I can tell you that. We're going to have some great young talent and I think a lot of people were surprised with the changes that were made this offseason. But we're not taking that approach. And just being a young guy who has been around for this spring training and a little bit last year and being able to see the team and the way the attitude is going, I like to base things on attitude, the attitude of the team is awesome. Everyone is having a good time, but when it's time to go to work, everyone goes out there and puts it all on the line.
Blez: I talked with Billy earlier this year and he told me a story about a conversation you and he had after you hit a home run against Cleveland.
Swisher: I don't even want to hear it. (Laughs) The dance in the dugout, I already know what you're talking about. My buddy Esteban German is around here somewhere. (Oakland was playing Texas that day)
Blez: (Laughing) Tell me how that conversation went.
Swisher: He told me not to do it. Don't do it. And I said, "Yes, sir." And that's all that conversation included. (Laughing)
Blez: He saw it while he was in San Diego, right?
Swisher: I was just a little excited. I learned and we're really working on professionalism. I have to learn how to be a professional player. And having guys like Mark Kotsay and Scott Hatteberg around all the time to keep me in line definitely pays off.
Blez: What do you do for fun and to unwind and get away from the game?
Swisher: I play a lot of video games and stuff.
Blez: Any Halo 2?
Swisher: Yeah, Halo 2, I got online. I like to relax. I love people. Obviously I love talking. But there comes to a point where you like to be by yourself and usually that comes when the day winds down, you go back home and just spend time with your friends. I talk to my Grandma and my Dad every day. That's my unwinding process.
Blez: Can you name five CDs you have in your car right now?
Swisher: I can name two. Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney. I borrowed a CD. Usher. I kind of like that a little bit, that's all right.
Blez: The guys helping you branch out?
Swisher: Yep and I've got Big & Rich in there. That's all I've got in there. I rented a car from Enterprise and I've only got four CDs in there. I need to go buy a couple more.
Another media guy: Did you see yourself in the new MVP Baseball game?
Swisher: Yeah, I saw that. I didn't know my face was so fat. (Laughing) I saw the picture and I'm like, yeah, that's an OK picture, but then I get on the game and I'm like, "Oh my God." But hey, you know what, just to be on a video game is unbelievable, man.
Another media guy: Apparently, they say you like to be right-handed.
Swisher: I guess. Whatever's in the game, is in the game, you know?
Blez: You don't go in and up your ratings?
Swisher: No, I'm happy having a guy that's already on there, you know what I'm saying? (Laughing) Yeah, creating my guy with giving him a rating of 99 here and 85 there, those days of creating myself in those games are gone.
Another media guy: Did you really get a $7 Blizzard at Dairy Queen?
Swisher: It was like $5 or $6 or something like that. The Blizzard was like that big (holds hands eight inches or so apart). I got about half way through it and I thought, oh my God. That was awesome though. It felt like you were a kid again. I feel like a kid every day, but for other guys it really put the game in perspective that this game is fun.
Another media guy: Did anyone have any idea who you guys were?
Swisher: We were all like, yeah, we're from post legion 89. (Laughing) But that's what it felt like, it felt like you were on a post legion team or a high school team. After that, we didn't care how long the trip was. We had our Blizzards or our Snow Cones or whatever we got. I did have to stop about half way through though because I felt like I was going to throw up.
Blez: Thanks, Nick.
Swisher: No problem, man. How ya'll doin'?
Blez: Actually, I also meant to ask you how the thumb is feeling?
Swisher: Why didn't you man, you had the chance? (Laughing) The surgeries went really well. Both the surgeries went well and now I'm getting that confidence back each day. The more and more ABs I get, the better and better I feel.
Blez: Thanks again.
Swisher: No problem.