Results tagged ‘ Bart Swain ’
GOODYEAR, Ariz. – In his role as the Indians Director of Baseball Information, Bart Swain already has a pretty unique role.
He and our Assistant Director of Baseball Info, Court Berry-Tripp, travel with the team and serve as the direct liaisons between the players and the front office, media and fans.
But Swain has made the role even more unique: When called upon, he throws Batting Practice to the players, something he began in the 1996 season and that stuck after former Indians Hitting Coach Charlie Manuel saw him do it and apparently thought he was good enough to keep on.
“I’ve thrown BP since high school,” the 44-year-old Elyria High grad said last week in Goodyear. “I played in high school, but I wasn’t very good. This was a way to make myself useful.”
Swain joined the Indians in 1992 and worked for two years as an intern in the Media Relations department. He moved into the Director role in 1995 and has been there since.
Players like to give Swain a hard time about his throwing, but it appears he’s serviceable, at least, in the role. Tribe infielder Mike Aviles, for one, was glad Swain was around during last year’s Tribe Fest; Aviles had just been traded to Cleveland and was in town and looking to hit.
“He said, ‘I’ll throw,’” said Aviles, who is with his third big-league team. “I said, ‘I thought you were the PR guy.’ He’s the only PR guy I’ve been around who does it and it’s pretty cool.”
OK, but how does he throw?
“It’s not that bad. It’s actually pretty good,” Aviles said. “He has his days. Sometimes he’ll let loose a changeup and is in the ground… He gets his momentum back though.”
Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall was equally back-handed when complimenting Swain.
“He’s better than he was,” Chisenhall said with a good-natured smile. “He throws a solid BP. He can get out of sync a little bit, and he’s not in the upper echelon of BP throwers. But if you have to hit, he’ll do.”
The Cleveland Indians announced today that Carlos Baerga, one of the best second basemen in Cleveland Indians history and a member of the 1995 World Series team, will be inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame on June 22.
Baerga always has been a fan favorite and is warmly remembered throughout the organization as being an uplifting, positive force in the clubhouse.
“As difficult as it is to identify one player who made the most significant impact on the renaissance of Indians Baseball in the 1990s, I would have to have Carlos Baerga at the heart of the discussion,” said Indians Vice President of Public Relations Bob DiBiasio. “It took Carlos’ passion and enthusiasm to awaken a baseball franchise and its fan base from a 40-year slumber. His energy was infectious. Constantly moving, constantly dancing and talking whether in the clubhouse, during BP or during a game, Carlos provided an enthusiasm that helped create perhaps the best run of Indians baseball in club history.”
Tom Hamilton, voice of the Indians, agrees. “The guy unified the clubhouse. His personality was so magnetic; he made sure everyone was ready to play. Baerga didn’t have a problem getting guys fired up. He was never one of those guys that said, ‘that’s not my job.’ He did things others hadn’t done before.”
His impact on the field was just as — if not more — incredible. A switch hitter, Baerga was the first (of only three players) to have ever hit a home run from both sides of the plate in the same inning. He had back-to-back seasons with 200 or more hits; Kenny Lofton, in 1996, is the only Indians player to accomplish the feat since Baerga.
“In 1993, he had cellulitis after fouling a ball off his leg with 199 hits. He spent five days in the hospital and on the sixth day came out and got his 200th hit,” said Indians Director of Media Relations Bart Swain. “That 200 was a magical number for him. Most guys would have shut it down, but Carlos gutted it out and got his 200th hit legging out a swinging bunt down the third base line in the last game at the old stadium.”
“Whether leading the team in hits or hustling from first to third, Carlos was in constant motion,” DiBiasio said. “Most remember Carlos’ highlights on the field — hitting homers from both sides of the plate in one inning to set a Major League record or producing seasons for a second baseman that rivaled baseball legend Rogers Hornsby — but my memories of Carlos focus on what an incredible teammate he was. Always smiling, always keeping the clubhouse a fun place to be. And when our franchise suffered the tragic deaths of Steve Olin and Tim Crews, it was Carlos who represented his teammates at a press conference the morning following the accident. Few have worn the Cleveland Indians uniform with more pride than Carlos.”
Baerga currently works as an Alumni Ambassador for the club and is assisting new manager Terry Francona’s staff at Spring Training in Goodyear, Arizona. Most recently, he was named Manager of the Year in la Liga de Béisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente Walker in Puerto Rico.
Out in Goodyear, it seems Baerga’s passion has been revived. “Having (new outfielder Nick) Swisher here reminds me of the energy and enthusiasm that Carlos brought day in and day out,” Swain said.
“He has never changed,” Hamilton added. “That’s why you knew it was genuine.”
Baerga will be honored in a ceremony before the Indians’ game against the Minnesota Twins and later will be recognized in Heritage Park, behind the center field wall at Progressive Field. Sincerest congratulations to Carlos Baerga on being the 39th member inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame.
–TribeVibe contributor Courtney Shilling
TribeVibe’s arrival on Indians.com raised at least one question – how would Jordan Bastian, the master of his very own Major League Bastian blogosphere domain, react to the new kid on the block? Would there be backlash resulting from the increased competition? Should we expect a steady dose of press box silent treatment? Or would he bake us cookies and welcome TribeVibe to the MLBlogs neighborhood?
To find out, TribeVibe turned to Bart Swain, the senior (emphasis on senior) member of the Indians Baseball Information Department, to execute these hard-hitting questions and find out how Jordan has adjusted to his new scene after completing his first full season covering the Tribe in 2011. Bart, a native of Elyria (OH) and proud graduate of Ohio University, has been with the Indians since 1992 and would be happy to tell you all about his love for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Bart also throws batting practice. A self-described “roaming gnome,” Jordan was born in California and raised in the south suburbs of Chicago with a two-year high school stint in Colorado Springs. He graduated from Michigan State University’s School of Journalism and covered the Toronto Blue Jays for MLB.com for 5 years before starting his Indians beat in November of 2010. Jordan also owns a fancy camera.
Let the friendly banter and good-natured barbs commence.
TribeVibe: How do you like Cleveland?
Jordan Bastian: We have enjoyed Cleveland since the move; it was a great move for our family. I grew up in the Midwest, in the south suburbs of Chicago, and the place where we live in Cleveland feels a lot like the area where my wife and I grew up. We have felt right at home, the team has been great to deal with – a great PR staff [smirking] – it has been a great move and we are really happy we did it. It is a place we can see ourselves for a long time.
TV: Did you enjoy your time in Toronto?
JB: I did, I enjoyed Toronto a lot. It was cool to be right out of college, newly-wed, living downtown in a big city, covering a big league ballclub. It was a fun experience being in that type of situation. But after five years there it was a family need to get somewhere that was closer to home.
TV: Is this an easy team to cover?
JB: I think Cleveland is a great team to cover. I would say first and foremost because it is such a young team and they are really easy to deal with and really easy going. I have been lucky that the three GM’s that I have had to deal with [Alex Anthopoulos, J. P. Ricciardi, Chris Antonetti] have all been very accessible. Chris falls right along those same lines. If you need him he will be available for you and Manny Acta is great to deal with in terms of availability for the media and just being easy to get along with. It has been a really smooth transition and a fun team to cover.
TV: Do you still enjoy the travel and the day to day stuff?
JB: One thing I do when I am on the road is get out and experience cities a little bit, whether it’s going to museums or going for a run or things of that nature that make the travel more bearable. It can be tough being in airports and hotels away from our families as much as we are. Being away can be tough, so keeping yourself active and getting the most out of each trip is key.
TV: I have noticed you have a camera [laughter from JB]; would you call yourself a photo-journalist?
JB: No I wouldn’t. I would say that photography has been a family hobby that was passed down from my dad and my brother – they were big into photography, I have always toyed around with it on the side when I am not covering baseball and I got a new camera over the winter using [hotel] points. I have always taken some photos each spring to enhance my blog and fans seems to like it, so it has been something I have done to keep that hobby alive and [spring training] is a good time to kind of work on different types of photos.
TV: As camp went along, we [regrettably] saw less and less of your photos. Were the game schedule, increased roster activity and regular season preparation to blame for this sad turn of events?
Exactly. For the past 4-5 years, I’ve always tried to use those first two weeks of spring training workouts to take the majority of my photos. That really helps me throughout the year when I do blog entries or things like that. Throughout the season I can use my original content instead of using photos from other places.
TV: Now you’re also a runner, correct?
TV: How would you describe your level of running? Novice, intermediate, expert?
It was something that started as a weight loss venture. When I stopped playing baseball in college I put on a lot of weight and I decided I needed something to keep me motivated. I have never been a “go to the gym to workout” type guy and I needed that carrot dangling in front of me, so I took up marathoning to always have something on the schedule. You cannot mail in marathon training, you have to stay motivated. I wouldn’t call myself an expert – I’m just an average runner – but I have done 6 marathons. It’s something I do to stay in shape, keep myself motivated and keep the mind busy.
TV: Now your last marathon wasn’t your most successful…
JB: [interrupting] It was my worst marathon.
TV: Would you attribute that to being a little under conditioned and out of shape?
JB: I was a little under conditioned and out of shape. I would also say that the bridges in NY just absolutely killed me, namely the elevation change leading up to them, and I wasn’t prepared for that. In the future if I were to run NYC again I would probably go into downtown Cleveland and run some of those bridges a little more often rather than doing all my training closer to home along Lake Road. That was a big part of it and there were some unforeseen circumstances that crept up that really killed my time.
TV: Would you care to elaborate on those unforeseen circumstances?
JB: They are pretty gross actually, so no; I do not want to elaborate. I don’t want to. I think in baseball terms you would call them flu-like symptoms or stomach issues.
TV: So when our players come into camp out of shape, you find different ways of asking management “how does Player X look to you right now?”. If someone were to say “How does Jordan Bastian look to you right now?”, how would you answer that question…
JB: I would say he came into camp in pretty good shape and maybe, um, let spring training get away from him. A couple of pounds have been put on, but once the regular season gets into full swing and he is in the lineup on a more everyday basis, I think the weight will come right off.
TV: Just a few more….
JB: [Conversational laughter]
TV: What type of injury would be the toughest to come back from?
JB: I think an injury to the index finger on my right hand would be devastating and very tough to overcome. I do a lot of typing with that finger. I could do without the pinkie and ring fingers but that index finger is key.
TV: Your favorite stadium?
JB: It depends on what you mean by favorite. I’d say Safeco Field in Seattle is at the top of the list in terms of being a great place to work in a great city to visit – and it’s a gorgeous ballpark, especially when the roof is open. San Francisco (AT&T Park) and San Diego (Petco Park) are high on my list, too. If you’re asking me as a baseball fan, I’d probably say Fenway Park or Wrigley Field because I’m a big baseball history buff.
TV: Favorite city to visit and squeeze in a run?
JB: Boston. I love staying out in Brookline, which is about a 20-minute walk from Fenway. It’s a quiet part of the city where you can run west to the Chestnut Hill reservoir or north to the Charles River. That’s easily my favorite city to run in. As for road cities in general, I’d say San Francisco, Seattle and New York are high on the list. I don’t really count Chicago because I’m always visiting family. I don’t actually spend much time downtown on road trips there.
TV: Are you “Chicago-tough”?
JB: Nice. I like to think I’m tough, but my wife would probably disagree. Besides, all us sportswriters are a little soft around the middle. Maybe it’s all that Chicago pizza I ate growing up. I am the grandson of a steel worker and I did grow up with parents who preached being able to fend for yourself and to not always rely on others. I do think that has carried over to my career. Does that make me Chicago-tough? I don’t know. I set my high school’s all-time record for being hit by the pitch. That’s got to be worth something, right?
TV: What was your time at NYC marathon and what is your PB [personal best]?
JB: I honestly don’t know what my time was for New York. I never looked it up. I think it was around 4:45 or 4:50. A lot of people would say that’s a time to be proud of, but I was pretty disappointed and embarrassed. I could be a 3:30 marathoner. I ran a 1:42 half marathon in Cleveland last year. My best time for a full is 3:43 in Tampa in February of 2010, but that was two years ago. I’m running the Cleveland full in May and am hoping to be around four hours again. This job makes it hard to train completely right, and having a two-year-old son doesn’t make squeezing in long runs any easier. If I give up sleeping, I think I could find enough hours.
[EDITOR’s NOTE: A quick search on the internet reveals JB ran the 2011 NYC Marathon in 4:50:09, so there’s that.]
TV: Are you worried TribeVibe is going to run over the Major League Bastian blog? A “new sheriff in town” so to speak?
JB: Well, considering @tribeinsider likes to frequently remind me how far behind I am in terms of Twitter followers, I’m sure TribeVibe will gain a pretty good following as well – I’m sure I’ll hear all about it. It’s not a competition, though. I think fans will get a cool behind the scenes look at the Indians on TribeVibe and some solid baseball analysis over at Major League Bastian. Maybe it’ll be like having two Number One starters in the same rotation.
TV: Good stuff, my friend. Thank you for being a good sport.