Francona urges Swisher not to focus on Opening Day

Indians first baseman eager to get back on field after surgery on both knees

Francona urges Swisher not to focus on Opening Day

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians manager Terry Francona met with Nick Swisher on Tuesday morning to reinforce a message that has been in place throughout the spring. Cleveland does not want Swisher placing too much importance on Opening Day as a possible finish line for his comeback.

"We just reiterated that, 'Hey, Opening Day is not the final deadline,'" Francona said. "We certainly want him to be the best he can be, and the sooner the better, but we don't want to have artificial deadlines. We just wanted to reiterate that to him. He understands."

The 34-year-old Swisher is currently working his way through a gradual rehab program in the wake of undergoing surgery on both knees in August. Francona said the veteran was scheduled to go through outfield drills Tuesday, increase the intensity of his baserunning Wednesday and potentially get at-bats in a Minor League setting soon.

"When guys start to feel good," Francona said, "and you see Opening Day coming, you get the itch and you think, 'I could do it.' So, we just want to make sure all the things we talked about a month ago, we still adhere to those. There's a reason we put those in place."

Worth noting

• It's no secret that Francona loves versatility, using platoon advantage and playing matchups with his bullpen. With that in mind, the manager was asked how much he would love to have a switch-pitcher like Oakland's Pat Venditte, who logged one shutout inning against the Tribe on Monday.

"That's interesting. That's actually incredible," Francona said. "That'd be great [to have in the bullpen]. It'd save some time. That's pretty amazing that he can do what he does. That's hard. It's hard enough to throw a ball with your good hand."

Jason Kipnis (back) was out of the lineup Tuesday for the sixth straight game, but Francona said the second baseman is doing better. The manager noted that Kipnis took 50 swings in the batting cage Monday and the team was hopeful that he could get some at-bats in a Minor League game Wednesday.

• Outfielder David Murphy, who left Friday's game after twisting his right ankle, was out of the lineup for the fourth game in a row Tuesday. Francona said Murphy is tentatively scheduled to serve as the designated hitter for the Indians on Wednesday.

• The Indians will wear a No. 7 patch on their uniform sleeves this season to honor Al Rosen, who passed away at the age of 91 on March 13. Rosen spent 10 seasons with Cleveland (1947-56), winning the American League's Most Valuable Player Award in '53.

• On Tuesday, Cleveland released the following Minor League players: Wander Beras, Leonardo Castillo, Rob Nixon, Alexis Paredes, Jerrud Sabourin, Richard Stock and Anthony Vizcaya.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.