Grady Sizemore hasn’t played in a professional baseball game since Sept. 22, 2011. The long layoff because of injuries has the 31-year-old outfielder wondering what’s going to happen in 2014 when he takes the field as a member of the Boston Red Sox.
“I don’t know what’s possible,” Sizemore told ESPN.com’s Gordon Edes in Fort Myers on Wednesday. “It’s been so long. I’ve gone through so many major injuries. I can’t tell you, ‘Oh, I can get back to that,’ and say it with 100 percent confidence. I think there’s potential there, if I can stay healthy. I definitely feel I can, but again, I’ve got to see what it feels like when I get out there.”
Sizemore’s once-promising career has been derailed by injuries to his knees and back in recent years. The three-time All-Star has undergone seven surgeries over the last 53 months, and he hasn’t appeared in more than 71 games since 2009. Setting the bar sky-high for his 2014 return would be foolish as much as it would ambitious, but Sizemore sounds ready for the challenge of getting back into game action.
“That’s kind of what I’m excited about,” Sizemore said. “I really don’t know, if I feel good and it’s one of those things where I pick up and it’s easier each time I go out there, who knows? The first year, my durability is going to be the big thing. Can I stay healthy? Can I stay on my feet? Can I be consistent?”
Those questions all will be answered in due time, but Sizemore, who signed a one-year contract with the Red Sox this offseason, could make an impact if he’s able to recapture some of what made him one of baseball’s best all-around players for a four-year stretch from 2005-2008. Sizemore, who earned Gold Gloves in 2007 and 2008, smacked 33 homers, drove in 90 runs and stole 38 bases during his last full season in 2008.
Jackie Bradley Jr. could be the Red Sox’s starting center fielder on Opening Day. Not only is Bradley considered one of Boston’s top prospects, but he also isn’t dealing with the unique circumstances that Sizemore is facing in his return. Sizemore acknowledged Wednesday that it will take time to return to game speed.
“I don’t think it would be wise [to try to] go out there and play every day,” Sizemore said. “I think they’re probably looking to ease me in on a controlled basis. I’m excited to see what happens. I feel I can still contribute on a high level and still have that same type of play I had before [the injuries]. It’s just a matter of, can I stay healthy, can I put it together and stay on the field for a full season?”
If Sizemore stays on the field, he could become a valuable piece for the Red Sox. Manager John Farrell showed a willingness last season to empty his bench on any given night, so Sizemore certainly would receive plenty of opportunities, even if he’s not anointed Jacoby Ellsbury’s successor right out of spring training.
Photo via Twitter/@GordonEdes