FORT MYERS, Fla. — Grady Sizemore isn’t quite there — yet.
Sizemore, who has exceeded expectations in his comeback attempt with the Boston Red Sox, played four innings and batted twice Tuesday, marking the first time this spring the veteran outfielder has appeared in back-to-back games. Sizemore said after Tuesday’s effort that he felt good physically, but the 31-year-old still sees room for improvement.
“I feel good, but not great. My timing feels off. It feels a little rusty,” Sizemore said. “But I don’t feel like it’s been two or three years. I feel like it’s just another spring training where it’s early and you’re just trying to get a hold of things and kind of just get that rhythm down. But I still feel like I have a long way to go. I still feel like it’s not quite where I’d like it to be and (that) I can fine-tune some things.”
Sizemore went 0-for-2 with two groundouts in the Red Sox’s 5-4 loss to the Miami Marlins at JetBlue Park on Tuesday. It still was a step in the right direction, though, as Sizemore got down the line well, recorded a putout in center field and, most importantly, came away from the game with a positive outlook on his overall health.
“So far, every time we’ve pushed a little bit more, I’ve responded well,” Sizemore said. “We’re always going to continue to try to add more and find that threshold and kind of work towards it but not get past it.”
Sizemore hasn’t appeared in a regular-season game since 2011, and hasn’t eclipsed the 100-game mark since 2009. While Sizemore is young enough and talented enough to potentially overcome the rash of injuries that have plagued him in recent years, the two-time All-Star and his new organization are being careful not to get too far ahead of themselves while preparing for this season.
“(He’s) not far off (from) the familiarity with him back in Cleveland,” manager John Farrell said before Tuesday’s game. “But yet, you temper that past impression because of what he’s endured and the physical challenges he’s had to overcome.”
Farrell called Sizemore’s timing “encouraging,” which is funny given the outfielder’s own assessment. Clearly, the outfielder is demanding a lot of himself — although not too soon — and that motivation eventually could lead to Sizemore becoming a valuable contributor this season despite all he’s been through over the last five years or so.
“The good thing about baseball is there’s not a lot of time in between,” Sizemore said of proceeding with caution. “You’re constantly adding on and moving towards the next day. You don’t really have to be patient. Just be smart.”