FORT MYERS, Fla. — Grady Sizemore turned the clock back about six years at JetBlue Park on Monday.
Sizemore enjoyed a big day as the Boston Red Sox throttled the St. Louis Cardinals 10-5 in a St. Patrick’s Day spring training matinee. The veteran outfielder not only continues to pass every physical test placed in front of him, but he’s also showing flashes of the player who was selected to three consecutive All-Star Games from 2006-2008 while with the Cleveland Indians.
“It’s exciting to see. He’s been playing well, looking healthy and it looks like he’s having a good time just being back out there on the field,” Red Sox starter John Lackey said Monday. “I think he’s excited about that. He’s such a talented player and has had some great years in the league. If he can get even close to what he used to be, that’d be a huge bonus for us, for sure.”
Sizemore collected three hits and scored three runs Monday, raising his spring average to .381 (8-for-21). He also made a couple of excellent defensive plays, including one in the first inning in which he crashed into the center field wall while making a catch (check out the video below).
“I think you’re leery of any player crashing into walls. But he plays instinctually. He plays full out,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “To ask a player to be less than that, that’s a difficult request. He knows one way to play, and so far, so good.”
To say Sizemore has made encouraging strides this spring would be an understatement. The 31-year-old, who has dealt with various injuries in recent years, hadn’t played in an organized baseball game since 2011, yet it’s now possible he could be the Red Sox’s Opening Day center fielder. Jackie Bradley Jr. remains in the running for the job, but Sizemore has only gotten stronger as spring training has progressed. Simply put, he often has looked like the Sizemore of old.
“We’re staying very open-minded to this,” Farrell said. “Our memory serves us well (and) we know the kind of player he was, but we just have to stay open-minded to the evaluation in spring training and see how he performs. And he’s performed very well.”
Sizemore might never return to being the Gold Glove center fielder who jacked 33 bombs and swiped 38 bags in 2008, but he has shown this spring that there’s absolutely some gas left in the tank provided he stays on the field. While the Red Sox plan to proceed with caution as Sizemore continues to get his feet under him, it’s beginning to look plausible that the outfielder could make a sizable impact this season.
“(Against) left-handed pitching (or) right-handed pitching, he puts very good swings on some pitches,” said Farrell, who also has noticed an uptick in power recently. “Maybe a little bit of flashback to how good Grady was for a number of years.”