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Swisher misses friendships forged in Bronx

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CLEVELAND -- Nick Swisher has embraced the leadership role that the Indians offered him over the offseason. Over the past few years in New York, he was more of a complementary presence in a clubhouse packed with superstars.

It has been much different in Cleveland, but Swisher has fond memories of his time in the Bronx.

"Those guys over there, the city of the New York, the New York Yankees organization," Swisher said, "I could not have been more honored to be a part of that. The last four years have been amazing. I'm just trying to take everything that I've learned from over there and bring it in here."

On Monday, the Yankees were in town to open a four-game clash with the Indians. After leaving the Yankees via free agency and signing a four-year contract worth $56 million with the Tribe, Swisher laughed at the coincidence of matching up against his former team in his first home game with his new club.

"How about that, man?" Swisher beamed. "I've been talking to these guys for the past week, man. I'm so excited to see these guys. These guys were a major part of my life for the last four years. I've got a lot of friends over there. It still doesn't mean I don't want to try to give it to them."

In his four seasons with the Yankees, Swisher hit .268 with 105 home runs and 349 RBIs, averaging 150 games per year. Over the winter, New York offered him a one-year, $13.3 million qualifying offer, which he declined to test the open market. While Swisher weighed his options, the Yankees never came back with a multiyear offer.

"What it boils down to is they didn't come to me," Swisher said. "They didn't even offer anything. In a situation like that, as much as I love that city and as hard as it was to leave, I had to do what was best for my family and for myself."

Swisher admitted that the lack of interest from New York stung.

"It hurt," Swisher said. "That team was amazing. The city was amazing. You [reporters] were amazing to me. My teammates were so great to me. When you are in a place for four years -- that's a long time in baseball years -- you develop some relationships, and sometimes when you leave, that's not exactly what you want to do.

"But the way that Cleveland has come in and approached the situation, they've just treated me like a king over here. I could not be more honored to be putting the uniform on for them every single day."

Asked if he paid attention to the way the Yankees have addressed filling holes on their roster -- some of which were created by injuries -- Swisher hesitated with his response.

"Let me answer this the correct way," said Swisher, who then paused to collect his thoughts for seven seconds. "I'm not part of that team anymore, and I've got to worry about this squad. This is my team now, and I've got to do the best that I can to bring my 'A' game every single day. We've got enough stuff to worry about over there."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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