CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Red Sox aren’t ready to name Grady Sizemore their center fielder for Opening Day, not with eight days remaining in training camp. But manager John Farrell did nothing to discourage that idea Friday.
“We have a good reason to believe at this point that he is a likely candidate to become an everyday player with durability on his side at some point,” Farrell said before the Sox played to a 2-2 tie against the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Red Sox are still following a progression to build Sizemore up after he missed two full seasons with injuries. But the 31-year-old former All-Star is 9 of 25 (.360) in eight games and running well.
“The most encouraging thing is that he has not hit the proverbial wall,” Farrell said. “The medical information is guiding us. Every piece of feedback from the medical staff is positive with the end thought that he’ll become an everyday player.”
Sizemore is scheduled to start Sunday and play three consecutive days before resting Wednesday and playing Thursday and Friday. That suggests he is being prepared to start against the Baltimore Orioles on March 31.
Farrell acknowledged the Sox would have to schedule regular days off for Sizemore, who hasn‘t played more than 71 games in a season since 2009. But so far he has passed every physical test.
“We look at the way he’s playing the game," said Farrell. "Everything is reactionary at this point. There are no measured steps. He’s playing instinctually. We don’t see him favoring anything in the knees or otherwise. He’s got some good times down the line.”
Sizemore’s timing at the plate — he has struck out once in 26 plate appearances — is another factor.
“It’s pretty amazing given the time missed," said Farrell. "It just speaks to his athleticism and a low-maintenance swing."
• The Phillies refused to allow the Red Sox a DH, so Jon Lester also had two plate appearances. He struck out looking at three pitches in the third inning after being told not to swing, then was out trying to bunt for a hit in the sixth.
Lester was proud of his bunt attempt, saying he didn’t want to give away another at-bat.
“At least I got it down,” he said. “I just didn’t want to do what I did the first time.”
When Lester came to the plate in the third inning, he told catcher Wil Nieves to have Cliff Lee throw three fastballs because he has no intention to swing.
• A group of players and the coaching staff will spend the night in Orlando instead of returning to Fort Myers. The Sox play the Braves in Kissimmee on Saturday afternoon.
Jackie Bradley Jr., Will Middlebrooks, and A.J. Pierzynski are among those staying over. Xander Bogaerts, Mike Napoli, Dustin Pedroia, and Shane Victorino will join them on Saturday. John Lackey is the starter.
• Lefthanded reliever Craig Breslow threw 20 pitches of live batting practice back in Fort Myers and remains scheduled for his first game Monday. He could get three games next week. It seems far-fetched that Breslow would be ready for Opening Day.
“We have to be realistic,” Farrell said.
If Breslow is not ready, righthander Brandon Workman could find a place on the roster.
• Three players participated in minor league games at Fenway South. David Ortiz was 0 for 3 in the Triple A game, twice grounding into double plays. David Ross was 1 for 5 with three strikeouts bouncing back and forth between the Double A and Triple A games. Righthander Edward Mujica faced five batters and threw 15 pitches in the Double A game.