In a clubhouse filled with Xboxes and iPads, R.J. Swindle is the Durham Bulls’ bookworm. The 27-year-old left-hander is with his sixth organization — he has big-league time with the Phillies and Brewers — and at every stop along the way he’s had a book [and now a Kindle] in hand. Swindle, who has a 1.70 ERA in 29 appearances for Tampa Bay‘s Triple-A affiliate this season, is a graduate of Charleston Southern University.
On the current fad in the Durham clubhouse: “The biggest thing lately has been FIFA. A lot of the guys have been obsessed with the new FIFA 2010 game; they’ve got all kinds of 2-on-2 and 1-on-1 going on. That’s been a big down-time thing.”
On card games: “A big thing I’ve gotten into this year is playing the card game hearts; there are about six or eight of us who cycle through playing that. It’s been something different every year. Last year my team was really into playing pluck, which is pretty much spades except that you get to call your own suit. The year before, in Lehigh Valley, it was hearts as well, and the year before that it was poker. When I played for the Red Sox [organization], we would have a poker game every night, right before the game or whenever we could fit it in.”
On books: “I’ve always been a big reader. There are a couple of us who read here. I’m probably the biggest one and everyone kind of knows it. I have just acquired a new Amazon Kindle, which is quite spectacular. I would usually pack three or four books in my travel bag, so my wife bought it for me for a gift and I just put two books on it. It’s very light and travel-friendly. I’m the only one here who has one, so everyone has been asking me about it, what it is and what it can do. All of these companies are trying to come out with stuff, like the iPad, and it can’t do as much as those, but it’s great. I love it.”
On electronic gadgets in the clubhouse: “Navvy [Dioner Navarro] bought an iPad, and everyone has been pretty taken with that. [Angel] Chavez got one. And we have an N64 in our clubhouse in Durham and Mario Kart has been played a lot on that. Navvy has also brought in an Xbox 360, so the FIFA is being played on that. The iPad and game systems have been pretty popular.”
On being the team bookworm: “There’s so much down time in the clubhouse, and on the bus and plane rides, so I’ll usually grab a book and guys notice that. Instead of sitting around and watching TV or playing video games, I’ll be sitting there reading a book and guys will start talking to me about books. Fernando Perez brought over a book this past week for me to check out. I’m definitely known as the bookworm of the clubhouse.”
On Fernando Perez: “ He’s the smartest guy on the team. No doubt about it. He’s an Ivy Leaguer and we all kid around with him a little bit about that. He and I have a little different style of reading. He reads the deep, philosophical books that are a little over my head. I’m a college guy myself, but I like reading the light, friendly fiction. I’m reading a historical fiction right now — I’ve read of couple of those lately and really enjoy them, because I like history — but Fernando loves the deep, thinking-man’s books. He can definitely get into those a lot more than I can.”
On being college-educated: “I don’t think that any of us could look down the list and say who [in the clubhouse] is college or not. Everyone knows that Fernando is an Ivy Leaguer and a lot smarter than most of us, but as far as I go, I bet that over half the guys don’t even know that I went to college. They just know that I read a lot.”