Healthy for the first time in five years and two years removed baseball activity because he was recovering from multiple surgeries, Grady Sizemore will be playing center field for the Boston Red Sox on opening day. The team announced Friday that Sizemore had beaten out Jackie Bradley Jr. for the job. Bradley, one of Boston's top prospects who was expected to play center at Fenway Park this season after Jacoby Ellsbury left via free agency for the Yankees, has been sent to the minors.
Sizemore was one of the league's top center fielders from 2005-2008 when he played with the Cleveland Indians. In that span he averaged .281/.372/.496 with 27 homers and 29 stolen bases for 128 adjusted on-base plus slugging percentage. He made three All-Star teams, won two Gold Gloves and a Sliver Slugger. Afterward, he couldn't stay on the field, and didn't even play in 2012 and 2013. Now 31 years old, Sizemore is giving baseball another chance and Red Sox manager John Farrell will oblige.
Reporter Scott Lauber from the Boston Herald adds some detail:
Almost from the beginning of camp, Sizemore impressed the Red Sox with his timing at the plate, going 13-for-39 (.333) with a .390 on-base percentage during the exhibition schedule. Durability-wise, he worked closely with Dan Dyrek, the team's sports medicine coordinator and the man who famously helped extend Larry Bird's NBA career, to adopt a program that would keep his body as strong and healthy as possible. The final test of Sizemore's health came this week when he played in three consecutive games. After Thursday night's game, in which he notched two hits and a walk, Sizemore told Farrell that he felt good enough to play a fourth straight game. He won't -- the Red Sox already had decided to give him today off.
Farrell adds that Boston will take it easy with Sizemore in the early going by playing him relatively conservatively. But, as he keeps proving he can do more, Sizemore will play more. His is an amazing story already, but the hard part hasn't even come yet: Getting through the rigors of a major league season. It's OK to feel good about Grady Sizemore's comeback, just as long as you also realize:
It's only starting.
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