TAMPA, Fla. — Nobody in Major League Baseball is going to wear jersey No. 42 again, now that Mariano Rivera has gone from the New York Yankees. Once he retires at the end of the 2014 season as announced, Derek Jeter will take No. 2 in pinstripes with him. When it comes to the Yankees, those guys are special, not to be replaced — their numbers too.
On the other hand with the other digits, Robinson Cano, you, you're not that special. It took the Yankees the span of one offseason to find someone else to wear No. 24. They have assigned it to non-roster invitee Scott Sizemore.
Sizemore wore No. 29 with the Oakland Athletics most recently, but Francisco Cervelli already has that number on the Yankees. And the Yankees have retired the jersey number of 17 players, which also limits the choices. But handing out Cano's 24 right after he left town for the Seattle Mariners is, at least, a peculiar accident.
About 10 months removed from surgery on his left knee, Sizemore is making a comeback from his second torn ACL since 2012. In Sizemore's only full season in the majors, with the Tigers and Athletics in 2011, he was productive relative to the rest of the infielders in the league — .245/.342/.399 with 11 home runs and 53 walks. If healthy, he ought to do better away from ballparks like Comerica Park and the Oakland Coliseum.
He doesn't have a major league contract this spring but Sizemore, 29, has a chance to stick with the Yanks. Brian Roberts (wearing No. 14) should be considered the favorite to start at second base, with Kelly Johnson starting over at third. Even if Sizemore doesn't make the team out of spring training (and if he doesn't go to another major league team on the waiver wire), it's likely the Yankees will need him during the season.
We haven't played any spring games yet. It's possible that, if he makes the major league roster, Sizemore will wear a different number. But wearing uniform No. 24 in pinstripes might bring Sizemore luck. He deserves some.
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