BOSTON (CBS) — When Grady Sizemore signed with the Red Sox in January, he wasn’t sure what the future held after missing over two years of baseball.
But Sizemore has impressed beyond what anyone could have imagined down in Fort Myers, hitting .381 (8-for-21) with a double and three runs scored in 21 games. On Monday he not only had three hits against the St. Louis Cardinals, but made a pair of beautiful catches in center field, crashing into the wall for one and sprawling out for another.
With the three-time All-Star turning heads and Jackie Bradley Jr. struggling (6-for-33 in 11 games), Sizemore is making things tough on manager John Farrell.
Could Sizemore be Boston’s opening day center fielder? The Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher and Rich on Tuesday, and said while that is still to be determined, Sizemore is making a strong case.
“It’s only seven games and only 21 at-bats but he has been beyond what anyone has expected, even himself,” said Abraham. “The first few days of camp he was talking about hoping to find a way to help the team. Yesterday, he said his goal now is to try to be on the opening day roster.”
“Things have changed for him and things have changed for the Red Sox too,” said Abraham. “Farrell was talking about at the start of spring training that (Sizemore) might have to start on the DL, and now he’s in the mix if this continues.”
After missing all of 2012 and 20013, and playing just 77 games in 2011, the main concern with Sizemore remains his durability throughout a 162-game season.
“The biggest concern is how many games he can play in a row. When they start the season they’ll have 13 games in 14 days, and they’re all in the cold,” noted Abraham. “He’s only played back-to-back days once so far in spring training, so you don’t really know if he can be counted on to be an everyday player.”
“How they configure the roster is going to be interesting. Will they need Jackie Bradley to also play center field? Could they play (Shane) Victorino in center, which is something they don’t want to do? If you keep Sizemore and Jackie Bradley someone else will have to go, whether it’s Mike Carp or someone like that. They can’t keep six outfielders, so they’ll have to figure out a way to make this work,” he said.
As opening day gets closer, Abraham expects the Red Sox to start sending Sizemore on the basepaths to see if he’s still a stolen base threat.
“Farrell has said that as each day goes by, they pull the wraps off a little more to see what he can do,” said Abraham. “The only thing we’ve seen like that is there was a ball in the dirt two days ago, and he beat the catcher’s throw. It wasn’t a stolen base but a wild pitch, but he did the same things you want to do on a stolen base, and he’s gone from first to third. He has shown that he can run, and I think at some point they’ll have him try to steal bases to see how it looks.”
Abraham also touched on why people shouldn’t look too deeply into Jackie Bradley Jr.’s struggles, and what Boston’s lineup could look like March 31 in Baltimore.