Grady Sizemore hasn’t played in a major league game since Sept. 22, 2011. But the outfielder is prepared to leave his injury history in the rearview mirror with the Boston Red Sox.
Sizemore, who signed a one-year contract with the Red Sox last week, said Monday during an interview on MLB Network that he’s unsure about what his exact role will be in 2014. The 31-year-old is looking forward to life back on the diamond, though, as his patience certainly has been tested in recent years.
“It’s been a long road and a tough time for me to get over all these injuries, but I’m happy to be back and looking forward to getting out there and fighting for a spot,” Sizemore said.
Sizemore, who hasn’t played a full season since 2008, said Monday that he has had seven surgeries over the last four or five years, and that he’ll certainly need to make some adjustments upon returning to game action. But the three-time All-Star feels that he’s in a good place right now, even though there were times when he needed to slow down his comeback bid.
“Just coming back from one surgery is hard. When you lump seven in a short period of time, it kind of puts your body through the wringer a little bit,” Sizemore said. “I kind of had to take a step back the last year or two, and kind of just get the body right and try to get healthy and not rush things.”
Sizemore was linked to the Cincinnati Reds before signing with the Red Sox last week. Sizemore said that he spoke with several other teams as well, but ultimately he viewed Boston as a perfect fit because of his familiarity with the staff and the opportunity that he’ll have in the Red Sox’ outfield mix. In his mind, the Red Sox are putting him into a position to succeed.
Sizemore figures to compete with center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. during spring training, but it’s possible that the veteran outfielder will end up coming off the bench in 2014. Either way, Sizemore plans to be the same player that he was in Cleveland.
“You’re going to expect the same effort you got from me in the past. Nothing’s changed,” Sizemore said. “I’m going to go out there and play like I’ve always played and work hard and be a key player and give it my all every day.”
While Sizemore plans to give the same max effort that made him one of the league’s most exciting players from 2006 to 2008, the Seattle native has changed in some respects. Sizemore’s lengthy battle with injuries has taught him the importance of knowing his body and not pushing himself too far physically.
“You definitely have to be patient, and you definitely have to listen to your body,” Sizemore said. “I think me being the kind of player who was out there every day and never really had injuries, and when I first went through a couple of injuries, I tried to power through it. And I tried to power through it, tell myself I’m fine and that I could play in the big leagues. And at this level, with the competition the way it is, you just can’t do that. You can play banged up, but you can’t play with severe injuries. Now I know to listen to my body a little bit and know when to back off.”
Sizemore, who posted career highs in home runs (33), RBIs (90) and stolen bases (38) during his last full season in 2008, might not be the MVP-caliber player that he was in Cleveland. But the Red Sox saw something they liked in Sizemore, and it’s finally almost time to see if he can get back to being a productive major leaguer.
“I’m looking forward to getting out there and being a part of that city and that organization,” Sizemore said. “It’s a great opportunity for me, and who wouldn’t be excited to play for the Red Sox?”
Photo via Twitter/@stephcam23