Last week, White Sox outfielder Nick Swisher called me up but I was unable to talk because I had to run. When I thought I would never get my interview with Nick, who has been set up since July, he called me back up yesterday to talk with me. Swisher is currently the outfielder and first baseman for the Chicago White Sox, and will be for at least the next five seasons. He has a foundation called Swish's Wishes, and I suggest you all take a look at as the holiday's roll on in. I want to thank Joe Bick at Pro Star Management for setting this interview up for me, I really appreciate it.
ELI: You grew up around baseball because your Dad played, do you think your success can be credited to being surrounded by baseball as a kid?
NICK: Definitely. Growing up around baseball taught me about what to do and things to know. It was almost like I learned the unwritten rules of the game. Instead of little league, where most kids were playing baseball, I was with my dad in the big leagues , and it definitely taught me a lot.
ELI: You are a switch hitter, when did you learned to become one and what did you do?
NICK: The only reason was because I was solely right handed. Me and my friends were goofing around with it and at one point a Cross-checker with the Rangers said I would hit more homeruns if I switch hit. But it definitely elevated my game being able to play everyday, whether it was against a right or left handed pitcher. I'm still learning about it, but it gives me an extra dimension which a lot of people do not have.
ELI: Billy Beane is known for finding the best players under the radar, what did it do for your confidence when Beane said how much he wanted you with the A's?
NICK: Well I only care about Oakland, but when I think about them, all I can think about are the Glory Days. You know, like the Bash Brothers, Dennis Eckersley, and Ricky Henderson. They have such a reputation for having fun and bring in young guys. I'm in a great situation, with a great organization.
ELI: Have you read the book Moneyball?
NICK: Bits and pieces of it.
ELI: You're rookie season was the last year of the big three, what were Zito, Mulder, and Hudson like in the clubhouse?
NICK: They were good guys. But being a rookie, I was treated like just another rookie. I stay in touch with Zito, but those guys were good because they put Oakland back on the map. And then there our guys like Giambi who put them on the map to begin with. At the time though, they were three young studs.
ELI: What was the draft experience like for you? What were your thoughts coming into the draft?
NICK: The biggest thing with the draft was that so many people said so many things. I was projected to go between the 2nd and 4th round. To be drafted in the first round, like my dad, was absolutely amazing. I feel like people work their whole life to get to a certain point, and that point for me was right there. I got a call in the morning and I was jumping around. My dad came running down stairs in his robe and we exchanged a big chest bump. I think it is impressive that both my dad and I were taken in the first round. It is and experience I can share with my dad, and no one can ever take it away from us.
ELI: Can you tell me about your foundation?
NICK: It is called Swish's Wishes. I started it after I signed my five year extension with the A's. I didn't really know what to do, but Kathy Jacobson was great and helped me a lot. I did not really want to focus in on one charity because I would like to help everyone, so I work with a lot of charities. We have raised 75-80,000 dollars, donating 20,000 of it to the Oakland A's Fund. It is a non-profit organization that helps under privileged children.
ELI: Bob Geren was a new manager this year for the A's, what was he like?
NICK: He was very laid back and likes to have fun. He dealt with over fifty players this year, and that is a lot, especially for a rookie manager. I think he did a great job.
ELI: You play a couple positions, what would you say is your natural position?
NICK: First base. I'm playing outfield a little bit but I am still figuring it out. Daric Barton is on the rise at first base and I am more than happy to make the move to make room. Again, it gives me an extra dimension to play multiple positions.
ELI: I hear you play some video games, what is in the system right now?
NICK: Well, me and a friend beat Halo-3 last night. And I'll probably play some games with my brother this week.
ELI: You know, I do not think there has been a good baseball game in awhile.
NICK: Yeah, I have one right now, but I have not played it enough to give you a full analysis [Laughs]. For me, it is cool that I can go on and play and not have to create myself, I can just play. But I know some guys at EA Sports and I am sure they will come up with something good for next season.
ELI: If there is one player on the A's who would be sleeping in the dugout during the game, who would it be?
NICK: Oh man, who would it be? I'd have to say Joe Blanton [Laughs]. I can just see him right now with his sun glasses on asleep on in the dugout [Laughs]. I can definitely see him doing that.
ELI: If you could face one pitcher in the past, who would it be?
NICK: Probably Bob Gibson. His stuff was so nasty and overpowering that it would be fun. Scary but fun.
ELI: You worked out really hard following the 2005 season and it showed in 2006, did your output motivate you to work even harder coming into this season?
NICK: The biggest thing as a player is you always want to get better. And to be honest, it is harder every time. When pitchers figure you out and begin to pound your weaknesses, you have to adjust or there is nothing you can do. I have so much respect for the guys that can go and do it every year. Pujols, Ortiz, Ramirez-all those guys are where I would like to be at where I can go out and hit consistently.
ELI: Do you follow baseball during the offseason?
NICK: Yeah, but it is on and off. Everyone needs a break and the offseason is my break from it.
ELI: Where do you see the A's upgrading this off season?
NICK: Getting some guys in the bullpen probably. But we have the best GM in the world, and I am behind him, and the whole front office 110%.