Nick Swisher, elder statesman?

Yes, the man who (mostly) endeared himself to Yankees fans with his animated ways has moved on to the Indians, where he finds himself taking on a new role. One that would surprise most of his Yankees teammates of the last four years.

"This is going to my 10th year in the league, and this is the first time I've ever had a manager ask me what my opinion was on something," Swisher said yesterday, while making an appearance at the Boys & Girls Club of Hudson County's Jersey City Club. "I'm super-excited about that. It's going to be great. The communication level [with new Cleveland manager Terry Francona] is just off the charts, and that's something I've never had before.

"I don't really have many opinions on a lot of things, but when it comes to baseball, it's a game that I love. It's a game that I take a lot of pride in. For me to be able to have maybe a little input on what goes down, it's going to be awesome."

Swisher described his relationship with Francona, who won two World Series titles with Boston, as "the best ever."

A four-year, $56-million offer (with a vesting option for a fifth year at $14 million) convinced Swisher, a native of Columbus, Ohio, and an Ohio State product, to sign onto a homecoming. The Yankees, looking to slash payroll in 2014 and beyond, never tried to retain him once he turned down the club's $13.3 million qualifying offer for 2013.

When Swisher agreed to attend tonight's Baseball Writers Association of America New York Chapter dinner in Manhattan — he will receive the Ben Epstein-Dan Castellano Good Guy Award — he looked to add a charity component to his trip, specifically thinking of Super Storm Sandy. He and his wife JoAnna, who is pregnant, agreed on this club's music program, as much of its musical equipment was destroyed by the storm.