ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Buckeyes had a visitor at practice Thursday. Nick Swisher, the former Buckeye freshman All-American and three-year standout and now a Major League Baseball All-Star with the New York Yankees, spent a couple hours watching the Buckeyes practice at the spring training home of the Yankees.

Driving a well-customized, evil-looking black Camaro – the “bat mobile,” perhaps, considering Swisher has 162 career home runs and 495 RBI as a big-leaguer – and looking incredibly fit and strong, Swisher stayed for the entire Buckeye practice. He stayed on the field with the team and watched batting practice from behind the batting cages on practice field No.2 with a handful of others.

After practice, he spent about 25 minutes enthusiastically talking to the team along the third base line and answering questions. He told the team he was proud to be a Buckeye and was honored to have a chance to meet and address them.

A few of his thoughts:

  • “You guys are the first tier of the ladder of success for this program under Coach Beals.”
  • “The College World Series is possible, boys. They haven’t given out the trophy yet. Any team can get there. Just do it.”
  • “I feel blessed. To be able to come out here and play the game I loved as a kid, it’s just been great and it’s nice to see you guys out here. It’s going to be a fun year. It’s going to be a fun year.”
  • “Winning the World Series [with the Yankees] was amazing. It was the greatest accomplishment of my life because it was won as a team. I don’t play this game for the individual stuff. I’m not going into the Hall of Fame. That championship was about the team. And that’s why I love to play this game.”

Swisher took some photos with the players and coaching staff and then the Buckeyes were off to their hotel to begin final preparation for the season opener Friday. And as well prepared as this new coaching staff has gotten the team, the guys are probably even a little more pumped to play well after hearing “Swish’s” well-informed wishes.