There was a time not too long that Cleveland Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore was among the best all-around players in the game. He could hit for both average and power, run, throw and had easily one of the best defensive outfield gloves in the game.
But unfortunately, Sizemore was bit hard by the injury bug, causing a once-promising career to fall by the wayside. He basically became an afterthought, as a new crop of talented players emerged.
Sizemore, though, has been given a second chance with the Boston Red Sox. The reigning World Series champions are so confident that Sizemore can help their club that they gave the 31-year-old outfielder a guaranteed Major League contract.
And even before that, his last full season in the big leagues was 2008. Since that time, he’s had seven surgeries on a variety of injuries.
Give credit though to the Red Sox, who were able to see past the injuries to the three-time All-Star. There may be an adjustment period involved with Sizemore, but if he can even be half of what he was, he’ll catch on in Boston.
Luckily for the Red Sox, Sizemore is not the only option to play center field. Boston is very high on prospect Jackie Bradley Jr., and there will likely be a competition in spring training. Bradley was optioned between Boston and Pawtucket several times last season, but with Jacoby Ellsbury now on the Yankees, he figures to be the favorite as long as he produces.
With Shane Victorino entrenched in right field and a platoon of Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes manning left field, Sizemore’s most realistic option in winding up on Boston’s bench. That’s quite a nice option to have as a late-inning defensive replacement -- especially for Gomes.
Even so, just the presence of a former All-Star in Sizemore should light a fire under Bradley. Nothing is going to be handed to the young speedster, so the Red Sox hope he goes out and earns the job in spring training.
Sizemore’s goal right now should just be to stay healthy. He’s young enough where if he can prove his durability, he may be an option next offseason for a starting role somewhere.
But from the Red Sox's perspective, taking this chance is the epitome of a low-risk, high-reward signing. If Sizemore tanks or gets hurt again, it costs the Red Sox less than a million dollars. And if Sizemore rediscovers himself, that would help the team win ballgames, which is the ultimate goal.
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