FORT MYERS, Fla. — Grady Sizemore hadn’t played in an organized baseball game since 2011. Clearly, there was a moment of reflection Thursday, right?
“You would think, but not really,” said Sizemore, who batted twice and played three defensive innings during the Red Sox’s spring training exhibition against Northeastern University. “I kind of just approached it like any other game, just tried to get ready and play it like it was a normal game.”
But Thursday wasn’t a normal game for Sizemore by any means, even if he downplayed its significance several times after exiting the contest. The 31-year-old, whose career has been derailed by knee and back injuries in recent years, took a giant step forward by playing left field and batting leadoff against live competition for the first time in more than two years.
“Honestly, it didn’t feel like a big deal,” Sizemore said laughing. “I know it was a big moment for me just to kind of get back out there, but once I was out there, I didn’t feel like it was any different than any other spring training game. I just kind of focused on what I normally focus on and that was that.”
Sizemore was one of baseball’s most durable players from 2005-2008, playing in at least 157 games each season, including all 162 in 2006 and 2007. Injuries began to take their toll in 2008, though, and Sizemore has struggled to stay healthy ever since.
“I think it’s just a tough stretch to go through, especially when you’ve been so healthy and you have to battle through this,” said Sizemore, who flied out twice Thursday. “It’s just one of those things that you just look to move forward. You don’t dwell on all the injuries in the past. You just try to grind through it and get back.”
Sizemore’s next step is to see how he feels physically Friday, although the initial prognosis coming out of Thursday’s game was positive. Sizemore said he didn’t feel like he was forcing anything, and that he’s looking forward to pushing himself and building up his innings throughout the rest of camp.
“It was fun. It was exciting,” Sizemore said of his first game with Boston. “I was looking forward to it for a couple of days now. I was happy to get out there and just get back into games.”
Sizemore is expected to play again Saturday when the Red Sox face the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium. At this point, it’s still too early to make any determinations regarding Sizemore’s future, particularly whether he’ll make Boston’s Opening Day roster.
“I’m not worried about that,” Sizemore said. “I think for me it’s more of a physical thing, just kind of getting back into the baseball shape and getting conditioned. I think if I’m healthy and I continue to work hard, I’ll be in a good spot from a baseball skill standpoint.”
Sizemore continued down his steady path Thursday, which is a significant development given the outfielder’s recent history.