DETROIT — Nick Swisher is returning to pinstripes.
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Swisher began working out at the Yankees’ minor-league complex Saturday morning and will sign a minor-league deal with the club this week, the team said, pending a physical.
The intent will be for Swisher, limited to 173 games the last two seasons because of injury, to be stored at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre as potential depth at first base, the outfield and designated hitter.
“When he was here, he was extremely productive and loved playing here,” Joe Girardi said after the Yankees’ 8-4 victory over the Tigers on Saturday.
Swisher, 35, played for the Yankees from 2009-12, posting a .268/.367/.483 slash line with 105 homers and 349 RBIs in that time. He became a free agent after the 2012 season and the Yankees did not make an effort to re-sign him. Swisher ended up signing a four-year, $56-million deal with the Indians.
Knee problems beset him almost immediately, though he did manage to play 145 games in 2013. Swisher was traded last season to the Braves, who released him late in spring training this year.
Swisher, who had both knees operated on during the last two seasons, took batting practice and worked out at first base Saturday morning in Tampa. He is slated to be back at the complex Sunday.
“The fact they let me come out here and work is great,” Swisher told The Associated Press after Saturday’s workout. “It keeps me in the game, keeps me going strong, and I appreciate that. This place is like family . . . I still feel like I can do this.”
The Yankees also have Chris Parmelee in the minors as first-base depth should something happen to Mark Teixeira. But Parmelee, 28, is not a true first baseman, having played only 139 games at the position in his major-league career. Swisher has been primarily an outfielder in his big-league career but still has played in 483 games at first base.
Depending on Swisher’s health and production in Triple-A, he also could bump Aaron Judge as the first option in rightfield should something happen to Carlos Beltran. Of his 1,481 games in the majors, 749 have been at that position.
“We believe in having depth in our organization,” Girardi said. “Swish was a good player and has been a good player for a long time, so if one of our guys was to go down, we don’t necessarily have a true first baseman, and Swish is a guy that can do that or play the outfield.”