Nick Swisher knew the question was coming. Sort of like a 2-and-0 fastball. But he's grown tired of this particular pitch.
On the eve of the Division Series, Swisher again was asked Saturday about his well-documented struggles in the postseason, and he showed typical exasperation.
"Aw, man," Swisher said. "I feel like we've almost been in a playoff-type atmosphere for the past month and I really feel like I've done well. I'm not stressing about this, man. This could be my last hurrah here, so I'm just going to keep going out there and doing everything I have been."
Swisher is a career .169 hitter (21-for-124) in 38 postseason games, including 28 with the Yankees. During that stretch, he's had four homers and six RBIs. In the ALCS, Swisher's average drops to .115 (6-for-52).
The numbers he'd prefer to talk about are from the last two weeks; Swisher has been on a .432 roll (19-for-44) with three homers and 10 RBIs in 12 games. The Yankees hope that momentum carries into Sunday night's ALDS Game 1 against the Orioles, and Joe Girardi refused to put much stock in Swisher's past failures.
"I don't make too much of it because they're short series," Girardi said. "We played playoff baseball for a month and he was really, really good. He doesn't need to change that approach.
"I think that experience has probably helped him. Just go out and be who you are, and it worked really well for him and us."
The Yankees counted on Swisher to cover for the injured Mark Teixeira at first base, which he handled well, if not at Teixeira's Gold Glove caliber. After this season, it could be Swisher's turn to disappear. He's playing out the $10.25-million option left over from his five-year, $26.75-million contract, and the expectation is that he won't be back.
When asked if that is on his mind this October, Swisher denied it. But he was the one who brought up the whole "last hurrah" thing in the first place.
"We'll see," Swisher said. "At the end of the season, we'll figure it out. It could be, man, so let's make it a good one."
As for the bad playoff memories, Swisher said he is prepared to discard them for better souvenirs from October. Could this be a new-and-improved Swisher at this time of year?
"I feel that I've matured a little more, as crazy as that is," Swisher said. "I'm just real excited about the opportunity to be here, man. I feel like we have a good energy in here. If we just go out there and do what we're capable of, if I just go out there and just be myself, I think everything is going to take care of itself."