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."
Pronk homers in first at-bat back in Cleveland
CLEVELAND -- Travis Hafner said that he did not have any trouble navigating the roads to Progressive Field on Monday morning, and most importantly, he remembered to head for the visitors' clubhouse and not the familiar entrance for the home team.
"It's a little strange -- you're used to being over there for the last 10 years," Hafner said, nodding toward the third-base dugout. "It's great to be back here for Opening Day. It's going to be a great atmosphere, and I'm excited to be here."
Before receiving a rousing ovation during introductions, Hafner, 35, said that he expected a positive reception from the Indians' fan base when stepping to the plate against his former team, but he acknowledged that his new employer might make it difficult for Clevelanders to send cheers his way for very long.
"I think it'll be good," Hafner said. "The fans have always treated me great. At the same time, I play for the Yankees now, so we'll see. I'm looking forward to it. It'll be good to be back here playing."
It didn't take Hafner long to draw some boos from the Progressive Field crowd, slugging a three-run homer in the top of the first inning off Ubaldo Jimenez to break a scoreless tie.
Hafner signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the Yankees in January and said that his transition to New York has been an easy one. The Indians expressed some late interest in bringing Hafner back, but the slugger said he had already made up his mind about heading to the Yankees.
"I'd never gone through [free agency] before," Hafner said. "You really go into it not knowing what to expect. I didn't really hear much until January, and then it started to pick up a little bit. Once I found out that the Yankees had interest, it was a really good fit for me. It worked out well."
Even though he no longer plays for the Indians, Hafner said that he is pleased to see many fans in Cleveland excited about the team.
"They obviously had a great offseason, a lot of roster turnover," Hafner said. "They've been playing well. I think there's a buzz in town about the team. It's good to see them back doing well."
Hafner hit 200 home runs over 10 seasons with the Indians, setting club records with 187 homers and 650 RBIs as a designated hitter. He said his fondest memories are from Cleveland's playoff run in 2007, when the club defeated the Yankees in the American League Division Series before falling to the Red Sox in a seven-game AL Championship Series.
"I think being in the playoffs was obviously the big one that stands out," Hafner said. "The second half of that 2007 season -- going down the stretch, winning the division, playing in front of sellouts -- the fans were into it. Being in the playoffs, that was just a great experience."
Nunez returns to lineup after bruising bicep
CLEVELAND -- Eduardo Nunez returned to the Yankees' lineup on Monday, reclaiming his position at shortstop after missing two starts with a bruised right bicep.
Nunez was hit by an 88-mph Doug Fister fastball on Friday in Detroit and initially feared he might have broken his arm. Nunez has resumed throwing, and though he had not yet swung a bat, he told manager Joe Girardi that he would be ready to play.
"He says he's ready, and if we feel comfortable, he'll play," Girardi said. "He got hit in the muscle. It's a muscular thing."
Nunez, who is filling in while Derek Jeter continues to work back from left ankle surgery, entered play on Monday batting .364 (4-for-11) in five games this season.
Yankee Stadium to host two soccer matches
CLEVELAND -- The Yankees announced on Monday that they will host two world-class soccer matches this summer at Yankee Stadium.
On May 25, reigning European club champion Chelsea FC will face current English Premier League champion Manchester City FC, and on June 11, reigning World Cup and European champion Spain will play Ireland.
Kickoff time for the May 25 match between English Premier League teams Chelsea FC and Manchester City FC is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. ET. Kickoff time for the June 11 friendly match between Spain and Ireland is 8 p.m.
Tickets for both exhibition matches will go on sale to the general public as a bundle package including both games beginning on April 10 at 10 a.m. at yankees.com/soccer. For updates and further details, visit yankees.com/soccer or follow @yankeesevents on Twitter.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.