FORT MYERS, Fla. — Grady Sizemore is expected to play in his first organized baseball game since 2011 on Thursday, when the Boston Red Sox kick off their spring training slate with a doubleheader against Northeastern and Boston College at JetBlue Park.
Sizemore, whose career has been derailed by knee and back injuries in recent years, has erased a lot of doubts with a strong showing at Red Sox camp thus far. The training wheels officially will come off Thursday, although Sizemore and the Red Sox will continue to proceed with caution as the outfielder gets more comfortable.
“Definitely better than expected,” Sizemore said Tuesday when asked about his health. “I didn’t expect to come in here and have continuous days without any issues and be able to keep pushing it to keep up with the volume and keep going from there.”
Sizemore last played in the majors Sept. 22, 2011, and his injury woes date back even farther than that. The 31-year-old missed chunks of the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons before his career totally went off the tracks because of various ailments. Sizemore and the Red Sox are looking to take things slow this spring, but the initial reports have been extremely positive.
“We came into camp knowing we were going to have to work off his readiness and comfort level,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said Tuesday. “He’s answered everything within the schedule so far. You can see the look on his face and the way he talks or answers questions about fundamentals, timing at the plate or physically how he’s responding. Thursday’s not too soon based on some of the answers he’s gotten through the workouts.”
Sizemore said Tuesday he has had long discussions with Farrell, other coaches and the club’s training staff on a daily basis since arriving in Fort Myers. The Red Sox are keeping a watchful eye on Sizemore with the understanding that the three-time All-Star still is getting his feet under him, even though the team’s concerns have been mitigated by his progress.
“Based on what he’s been able to do so far, maybe those pressing questions are a little less than first anticipated,” Farrell said.
Sizemore agreed with Farrell’s assessment Tuesday but said he doesn’t plan to stray from the path he set out on upon signing with the Red Sox over the offseason.
“Again, I’m just taking it day-to-day,” Sizemore said. “There’s definitely no doubts. I feel good, and I feel strong. I think it’s just a matter of being smart and taking it one step at a time and not trying to do too much too soon.”
The step Sizemore takes Thursday could be a giant one if all goes according to plan.
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