After opener with Tribe, Swisher heads back to Arizona

After opener with Tribe, Swisher heads back to Arizona

HOUSTON -- Nick Swisher swung at a batting-practice fastball and sent it soaring over the right-field wall at Minute Maid Park prior to the Indians' Opening Day clash with the Astros on Monday. The baseball caromed off the facing of the ballpark's second deck, providing a glimpse into how the veteran is feeling right now.

Swisher just has to wait a little longer before he can step into the batter's box in a game again. After spending Opening Day with his Cleveland teammates, the outfielder will return to Arizona on Tuesday to resume his rehab from the August surgery he underwent for both knees.

"He's doing pretty well," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He's done a really good job of being so consistent on everything we've asked him to do."

Francona noted that the 34-year-old Swisher, who is currently on the 15-day disabled list, will have meetings on Wednesday at the Tribe's spring complex to go over the next steps in his comeback. Swisher will continue to play in extended spring games in Arizona, leading up to a Minor League rehab assignment closer to Cleveland (likely within the next few weeks).

There is no established timetable for Swisher's return, though.

The Indians' hope is that Swisher will be able to handle playing in the outfield -- not just serve as a designated hitter -- before he is activated. Cleveland also wants to make sure he responds well to playing in consecutive games in the Minor Leagues before he rejoins the Major League team.

Last season, Swisher played through discomfort in his legs for most of the season, resulting in a .208 average to go along with eight homers and 42 RBIs in only 97 games for the Tribe. He had surgery on each knee on Aug. 20 and spent the bulk of Spring Training going through a gradual rehab program.

Francona felt it was important to have Swisher on hand for Monday's Opening Day festivities.

"I thought it would be meaningful to him," Francona said. "I just thought that he's been working on that agility field pretty much more than anything, and he hasn't been around the guys all that much. I just thought that it would be meaningful to him and, I think after talking to him, it was."

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.