It would have been easy for Grady Sizemore to give up, retire and someday tell his grandchildren about when he was one of the best players in baseball for a three-year stretch. Sizemore chose the more difficult path, and his hard work is paying off.
Sizemore was named the Boston Red Sox’s Opening Day center fielder by manager John Farrell on Friday, capping a tremendous spring for the 31-year-old, who had been sidelined for more than two years because of injuries. Sizemore, a three-time All-Star with the Cleveland Indians, now is focused on rewarding the Red Sox for choosing him over Jackie Bradley Jr., although the veteran outfielder acknowledged Friday there is some satisfaction that comes with winning the center field job.
“I’d say this was definitely a lot more satisfying,” Sizemore told reporters in Fort Myers on Friday when asked how making the Red Sox’s roster this year compares to making his first major league team as a 21-year-old in 2004. “After going through what I’ve gone through, all the negative things that have happened, it’s a long time since I’ve had positive news, a long time since I’ve been able to play, to feel this good in this setting, to look forward to coming to the ballpark not thinking, ‘What’s going to happen next? What’s going to hurt today?’ Everything’s great.”
Sizemore, who has undergone seven surgeries, hasn’t played in a regular-season game since 2011 because of various knee and back ailments. His last full season came in 2008. But even though Sizemore still has questions to answer, the two-time Gold Glove winner is optimistic he might soon return to being the elite player he once was in Cleveland.
“I think I’m getting there,” Sizemore said. “I feel great now. I feel as good as I could have hoped coming in before camp, and I think there’s still room for improvement.
“I’m not going to put high expectations on it. I’m going to try to keep improving on what I’ve done so far.”
Sizemore’s progress so far has been impressive. It might be just the beginning.
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