CLEVELAND -- Nick Swisher doesn't like being bored. And that's exactly how he's felt while serving his three-game suspension for charging the mound after being hit by Texas pitcher Vicente Padilla last Sunday. "I need to have something to do," Swisher said. "I haven't been doing anything."
Fortunately, he'll have something to do on Saturday when he returns to the A's lineup against Cleveland. "I'm getting ready to play," he said. "Everything's good. I'll get back after it [Saturday]." The timing of the suspension worked to the A's and Swisher's advantage. He fouled a pitch off his right foot on Monday and was on crutches the following day, so he probably would have been sidelined for a couple of days anyway. A's manager Bob Geren will be glad to have Swisher back in the lineup. "He's been a huge part of our success," Geren said. "He's shown a lot of toughness. He's been banged up a lot." The switch-hitter is batting .254 with 22 homers and 73 RBIs. He has already reached career highs in doubles (34) and walks (100) while his home run total is second among American League switch-hitters. Cleveland's Victor Martinez leads with 24. His walk total is also second in the league behind Boston's David Ortiz (104). Tough to explain: Jack Cust has hammered Cleveland pitching this season. He was batting .444 (12-for-27) with five home runs and 15 RBIs in seven games, including a walk-off homer off closer Joe Borowski on May 15. Geren doesn't think there's any particular reason for Cust's success. "It's not a lot of at-bats," he said. "It's usually not necessarily the team. Sometimes, it's how the guy's going. It's more of a coincidence. I don't think one team's scouting is better than the other's." Cust isn't the only A's player to have success against Cleveland going into Friday's game. Dan Johnson was batting .519 (14-for-27) in seven games this season. He also was hitting .375 (27-for-72) in 21 career games against the Indians. Cust started in right field while Johnson was the DH. They were the 3-4 hitters in the lineup. Something to play for: The A's finish the season against three teams that are virtual locks to make the playoffs -- the Indians, Red Sox and Angels. After three weekend games in Cleveland, the A's play a two-game series in Boston before finishing the season at home with three games against Los Angeles. "It will be good for our young players to experience these kind of series," Geren said. The Angels entered Friday night with a 91-62 record, the best in the league. The Indians (90-62) and Red Sox (90-63) were right behind them. "Even if they've clinched [a playoff spot], they'll be playing for home field," Geren said. Geren, obviously, would prefer not to have a team clinch against the A's. The Indians' magic number to clinch the AL Central going into Friday night was three. "We'd like to do our part," he said. "That's all we can control." Harden watch: Right-hander Rich Harden, who has been limited to seven appearances this season because of a sore shoulder, is scheduled to start on Sunday. It will be his first appearance since July 7, when he lasted 2 2/3 innings, surrendering four runs, five hits and three walks against Seattle. Harden will be making his fifth start of the season. He's 1-2 with a 2.45 ERA in 25 2/3 innings. On deck: The series continues on Saturday at 4:05 p.m. PT as Oakland's Dan Haren (14-8) meets Cleveland's Paul Byrd (15-6) in a battle of right-handers.
Steve Herrick is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.