PARKERSBURG - The twinkle is back and Nick Swisher can't wait to tackle another Major League Baseball season.
Swisher returned to his old stomping grounds on the campus of Parkersburg High School during Monday's press conference inside Jack Stephens Memorial Gym to announce the former PHS standout as the spokesman with Broughton Foods Company.
Not only was Swisher excited about having his face on bottles of chocolate milk, but the 28-year-old slugger was looking to make amends for last season when he hit .219 in a one-year stint with the Chicago White Sox.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
New York Yankee Nick Swisher, a Parkersburg High School graduate, speaks at a press conference Monday after he was introduced as an endorser of Broughton's Refuel Chocolate Milk.
It's a new year with a new ballclub as the switch-hitting first baseman/outfielder leaves this week for spring training in Tampa, Fla., and joins his New York Yankee teammates=
"Last year was kind of a bump in the road," Swisher said. "The only thing that was down last year was my batting average, and a lot of people put a lot of stress on that. I know after last year, I could have not worked any harder than I did this past offseason.
"My father (Steve Swisher) told me about a week ago that I have the twinkle back. Somewhere along the line either the twinkle got taken from me or I lost it myself. But I'm back. I feel good - I'm smiling a lot more and I'm excited about playing baseball once again."
The Yankees acquired Swisher through a trade last November. With the White Sox, he hit 24 homers and drove in 69 runs while batting in every slot in the lineup except clean-up.
The Yankees may have added All-Star first baseman Mark Teixeira to their roster during the offseason, but Swisher still feels confident about nailing down a starting spot in the outfield.
"Obviously I will be back in the outfield somewhere," Swisher said. "I'll just go from there and see what happens after spring training."
One thing is for sure, Swisher will have plenty of chocolate milk to keep him hydrated. He is part of a campaign being launched for the regional Broughton Dairy, which is about to announce to the world the natural goodness of chocolate milk as an energy drink.
"To represent Broughtons and the chocolate milk side of things, I absolutely love it because this is all I drink," Swisher said. "I don't drink white milk - not skim, not 2 percent. I drink chocolate milk.
"I guess now I have a pretty good supply coming to me."
Chocolate milk served as part of Swisher's post-workout regiment this past offseason. Not only did he train at Hall of Fame Chiropractic, but he also practiced at his father's hitting camp in Williamstown.
"I've lost 16 pounds and got myself into good physical shape," Swisher said.
Even though he owns two homes - one in Oakland, Calif., and another in Scottsdale, Ariz. - Swisher lived in his parent's basement this past winter. Keeping a low profile once he arrives in the Big Apple is one way he figures to stay away from the gossip of the New York tabloids. He has called Jason Giambi and Johnny Damon to get insight.
The first order of business is taking care of the facial hair and shaving the goatee.
"I'll look like an eighth grader again," Swisher said.
He is also ready to embark on The New Yankee Stadium, which features the same dimensions as the original Yankee Stadium where Swisher hit his only inside-the-park home run.
"It will be great to be a part of history," Swisher said. "The biggest challenge for me is to stay within myself. One of the greatest things about playing for the Yankees is that every city you go to - whatever day it is - it is always a packed house because everyone wants to see the Yankees play."