Swisher in position to still be productive

Veteran knows his days with the Braves might be numbered

Swisher in position to still be productive

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Though Spring Training has afforded Nick Swisher the opportunity to believe his surgically repaired knees will no longer burden him, he is not blind to the strong possibility that the Braves might not have a place for him when the regular season begins.

"You hear rumors just like everybody else does and you don't know what's going to happen," Swisher said. "This place has been amazing to me. I've only been [with the Braves] a couple months, but I'm just trying to have a blast, because you just don't know what's going to happen. If you play that game and think about it every single day, you're going to drive yourself crazy."

As Swisher spent this offseason rehabbing and strengthening his legs to the point that he no longer has to wear the bulky braces that adorned both knees last year, the Braves were diligently attempting to find a team that was willing to assume at least a small portion of the $15 million Swisher is owed this year.

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Though they would seemingly be willing to eat nearly all of this salary, the Braves have yet to find any takers for the former All-Star, who has slashed .204/.291/.326 since the start of the 2014 season, when the knees began to become problematic.

With Opening Day now just two weeks away, the Braves have reached a point where they might need to simply release Swisher, who was acquired along with Michael Bourn as part of the swap of bad contracts that sent Chris Johnson to the Indians in August. The deal centered around the Indians' desire to create payroll flexibility this year and the Braves' desire to do the same for 2017.

"I think this Spring Training has been good for me," Swisher said. "It's been really good to just go out there and play and just have a good time doing so, because I feel my passion is back. There's just a lot of uncertainties, because you don't know what's going to happen. You just smile it up every day, because you can't control what's going to happen."

Feeling better than he has since both knees were surgically repaired in August 2014, Swisher has batted .258 (8-for-31) with a double and six strikeouts in 12 Grapefruit League games. Since March 12, he has gone 6-for-16 with just two strikeouts.

If the Braves were to keep Swisher, he would primarily serve as insurance to protect against the reality that Freddie Freeman's right wrist will remain a concern until he proves that he can play on a daily basis over an extended period with no setbacks. But the club could also simply utilize Kelly Johnson at first base if necessary.

"I feel like there's a lot of baseball to be played," Swisher said. "Whether it's here or somewhere else, I'm just going to have a blast."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.