Grady Sizemore once was one of the best all-around players in Major League Baseball. Jonny Gomes hasn’t forgotten.
Gomes worked out with Sizemore in Arizona over the offseason before the Boston Red Sox signed the injury-plagued outfielder. Gomes — realizing Jacoby Ellsbury wasn’t returning in 2014 and that the Red Sox could be looking for help — picked Sizemore’s brain, at which point he learned Sizemore was searching for an opportunity to play center field and bat leadoff. Now, with Sizemore on the verge of filling Ellsbury’s former role in Boston, Gomes can’t help but be astonished by the development.
“Whoa. You’re not supposed to do that,” Gomes told ESPN.com’s Gordon Edes. “You’re not supposed to lose your leadoff center fielder and get one back just as good. Nothing on Ells, but …
“That’s a no-brainer. Ells has like 65 career home runs. Grady has 130 (139, to be exact) and 120 bags (134 stolen bases). He’s 1-for-1 in home runs and stolen bases, a guy who averages 25 a season.”
Sizemore hasn’t played in a regular-season game since 2011, but there’s no denying his talent. Sizemore earned three All-Star selections and two Gold Gloves from 2006 to 2008. The former Cleveland Indians star compiled a career-high 33 homers, 90 RBIs and 38 stolen bases in his last full season in 2008.
“He’s the ambassador,” Gomes said of Sizemore. “It’s kind of unfair, but where the talent level is, if you want to play center field in the big leagues, you’ve got to be 30-30. You’ve got to be (Mike) Trout, (Andrew) McCutchen, Curtis Granderson. It goes on and on and on. Not just a burner, leadoff guy.
“Grady’s the ambassador right there. Barry Larkin was a 30-30 shortstop. A-Rod, a 30-30 shortstop. (Alfonso) Soriano 30-30 at second. Ambassadors. And your ambassador center fielder is right there.”
Sizemore still has a lot to prove. But in Gomes’ mind, the Red Sox have found themselves one heck of a bargain.