Swish, Giambi not surprised by former 'mate Jeter's walk-off

Swish, Giambi not surprised by former 'mate Jeter's walk-off

CLEVELAND -- Indians designated hitter Nick Swisher watched Derek Jeter's final home game with the Yankees from start to finish on Thursday night. When Jeter delivered a walk-off hit in his final at-bat in pinstripes, Swisher felt it was the perfect conclusion to an amazing career.

"I don't know any other way he could've ended his career other than that," said Swisher, who was teammates with Jeter in New York from 2009-12. "You can't script that, man. I think the biggest thing people need to understand is things like that don't happen.

"They only happen to certain people, and he's one of those people. He's a god. He's an absolute god."

Indians veteran Jason Giambi, who played with Jeter with the Yankees from 2002-08, echoed that sentiment.

"It wasn't surprising," Giambi said. "His whole career has been storybook. I've told people I'm more surprised that they didn't make the playoffs and win the World Series, with him hitting a walk-off in Game 7 to win it. That's him. That's his career. That's who he is. It's incredible to watch. He's a special person."

Indians manager Terry Francona saw plenty of Jeter during his days as manager of the Red Sox (2004-11), but his favorite personal memory of the shortstop comes before all the heroics in the Major Leagues. Francona also managed against Jeter in 1994 in the Arizona Fall League -- two years before the shortstop played his first full season with the Yankees.

Jeter made a jaw-dropping defensive play that stunned Francona.

"He went to his right, slid on a ball," Francona said. "[It was] not that jumping one he's kind of known for. He slid and threw from his butt. ... I remember sitting there thinking '[Dang], this kid, that was one [heck] of play.' I just saw it two years ahead of everybody else. I'll never forget that, because that was so athletic. It just kind of stopped you for a minute."

Francona agreed that Jeter's walk-off was a near-perfect ending to an incredible career.

"That probably sums up Jeter," Francona said. "He's always ready for the moment, and if it seems like maybe there's more moments with him, maybe it's because he makes them."

Quote to note
"There are days when we tell guys they're not available. The guys that pitch that much, there's a reason. They're competitive, they take the ball. But, sometimes you have to take it out of their hands and you've got to be sensible."
--Francona on handling his heavily-used bullpen

Smoke signals
Francona, along with Indians players Corey Kluber, T.J. House and Zach Walters, served as celebrity bartenders on Thursday night in a downtown event aimed at raising money for the VeloSano charity for cancer research.

"I had my hands full there," Francona said with a laugh. "Believe me, I had my hands full. I was a little out of my element. I think I actually hurt more than I helped."

• Entering Friday's game, All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley was riding a 15-game hitting streak, during which he had a .467 (28-for-60) average. Through 24 games in September, Brantley was hitting .436 (41-for-94) with a 1.075 OPS.

Carlos Santana headed into Friday's game with a Major League-leading 112 walks. Cleveland has not had a player lead the Majors in walks since 1919 (Jack Graney). Santana's 112 walks are the most by a Major League switch-hitter since 2004 (Lance Berkman).

• The Indians (1,419 strikeouts) headed into the weekend just 10 strikeouts shy of setting a single-season record for punchouts by a pitching staff. The big league record of 1,428 was set last season by the Tigers' pitching staff.

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.