MINNEAPOLIS – Among the Yankees players, coaches and staff with lockers in the visiting clubhouse at Target Field a day before Game 3 were two extra members of the traveling party.
One needs no introduction since this is his month. In the right corner of the room was a locker with the number 44 above it for Mr. October, Reggie Jackson.
The other was a surprise. He has a World Series ring from the 2009 Yankees, but October was not his best month on the field. In the left corner of the room was a locker with the number 33 above it for Nick Swisher.
Both former Yankees are special advisers to general manager Brian Cashman. The 73-year-old Jackson is a familiar presence around the team, but it was unusual to see Swisher dressing in the locker room with the players after Sunday’s light workout.
"Hey, I’m just happy to have somewhere to put my stuff,” the ever excitable Swisher said. “I don’t care if it’s in the bathroom, you know? For myself -- and I’m sure Reggie feels the same way – for us to just feel part of something again, it just goes to show you, at least for myself, my relationship with Brian Cashman has grown so much over the years.”
Swisher, 38, played for the Yankees from 2009 to 2012. His last big-league action came in 2015 with Atlanta.
In 2016, he signed a minor-league deal with the Yankees and played in 55 games for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but never got the call to the bigs and asked out of his contract on July 2. Swisher announced his retirement before the 2017 season and went to work for Fox as a studio analyst on the network’s MLB coverage.
He signed with the Yankees as a special adviser before last season, visiting their minor-league teams, learning how the front office works and occasionally showing up at Yankee Stadium. Since he’s not doing postseason work for Fox, Swisher was in the Bronx for the first two games of the ALDS against the Twins and accompanied the Yankees to Minnesota for Monday’s Game 3.
"I was a little bummed that I wasn’t going to be doing any postseason work for Fox,” Swisher said. “The next day, Cash calls and he’s like, ‘What are you doing right now?’ And I’m like, ‘Nothing, man.’ He said, ‘I’d love for you to come be with us.’ And I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me? I’ll be there like yesterday.'"
Jackson’s role as a special adviser is easy to explain: He’s around to be Mr. October. (His Twitter name is “mroctober”.) When you were the MVP of the 1973 and 1977 World Series, you don’t have to do anything other than show up and be fabulous.
Swisher’s October resume is a tad thinner. In 12 postseason series with four teams, he hit a combined .165.
So what’s his role for the Yankees in the ALDS?
Just to be Nick Swisher, it turns out. And that means a lot of talking, a lot of laughing, and a lot of positive thinking.
"This is family,” Swisher said. “Anything I can do to make things better or put a smile on somebody’s face. Light this place up as best as I can. Pretty much do, I guess, anything Cash needs me to do, whether that’s talking to somebody who may not be getting ABs at this point or just to come in here and keep it nice and loose. For me, it’s like coming home. I try to do my best to do whatever I can to help.”
Asked what he sees in his future, Swisher said: “Something. I don’t know quite exactly what I want to do. I know I really enjoy being home with my family and being a dad. But down the road, maybe I’m a manager. Maybe I’m a general manager. That’s the reason why I took this job. I want to learn.”
Swisher also has dabbled in acting, appearing as himself on a 2010 episode of the sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” and on his wife JoAnna Garcia Swisher’s 2010-11 series “Better With You,” again as himself.
“I played myself,” Swisher said with a laugh. “I’m good at it.”