The remarkable return of Grady Sizemore continued Monday on opening day, and he provided another reminder of what his capabilities were before injuries overwhelmed him — and what he still can do.
Sizemore hit his first home run since 2011 in his first regular-season appearance after missing two full seasons because of injuries. His home run came in the fourth inning in his second at-bat to tie the score, but it was the only run for the Boston Red Sox in a 2-1 victory for the Baltimore Orioles. Sizemore also lined a sharp single in his first at-bat and finished 2 for 4.
Sizemore didn't think he got all of his homer against right-hander Chris Tillman; not only did it seem to be helped by a stiff breeze and the cozy dimensions in right field at Camden Yards, but it also broke his bat. It's the first broken-bat homer Sizemore says he can remember. Sizemore was quoted by the Providence Journal as saying he was "shocked" when the umpire signaled home run. His previous homer also came at Camden Yards on July 15, 2011 against Jake Arrietta of the O's.
And here it was:
His single, hit hard in a solid at-bat overall, felt good to get "out of the way," he said. In a story by the Associated Press, Sizemore added:
"Today was very exciting. I couldn't wait to get to the ballpark."
Sizemore was a frequent All-Star, Gold Glove winner and MVP candidate with the Cleveland Indians until injuries started controlling his career in 2009. He has had seven surgeries since then, with his knees bearing the biggest brunt. Now at age 31, he's back in the league with the Red Sox after signing an incentive-laden contract. By virtue of a strong spring training, he took the starting center field job from prospect Jackie Bradley. Sizemore obviously still has the skills. The only question is — and it's still a big one: Can he handle the grind?
Manager John Farrell said the Red Sox are getting used to seeing Sizemore contribute. ProJo's Tim Britton cautions:
Farrell mentioned as recently as Sunday that the Red Sox “still don’t know fully what to expect throughout the course of this year” from Sizemore. Even after Monday, they don’t. But the sight of Sizemore carrying over — and expanding upon — his spring success in the first game of the season is probably more encouraging than a loss is discouraging. Spring training statistics mean very little — or so you may have heard for the last month — and Sizemore proved himself just a little bit more by taking Tillman deep on Monday.
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