Grady Sizemore lit up spring training. He created a buzz as much because of his performance on the field as for his back story – attempting to get back into the game after more than two years away because of injuries.
But, attempting to play full games almost every day at the major league level during the regular season is quite a different animal than spring training.
Sizemore, once one of the game’s most dynamic players before injuries took their toll, enters Wednesday’s game against the Yankees having appeared in 17 of the Red Sox’ 21 games. He is currently on an 0-for-13 skid and has just one hit in his last 26 at-bats, a single. Overall he is batting .213, going 13-for-61, with two home runs, two doubles five RBI, two stolen bases without being caught, and 10 strikeouts. The left-handed hitter is batting .186 against righties, going 8-for-43, .278 against lefties (5-for-18).
It’s not his fundamentals or swing mechanics, though, said manager John Farrell.
“When he’s squared up some balls, whether it was in Chicago or [Tuesday] night, the ball hasn’t quite traveled to what we might expect,” Farrell said. “Whether that’s cold air, wind, Jake [Ellsbury] makes a heck of a diving play on him last night.
“We’re not seeing an abnormal amount of swing and miss. The bat speed is there. Not a whole lot of bottom-line results for the approach taken. I don’t see him coming out of an approach or trying to do more than he’s capable.
“We also have to keep in mind that this is a guy who’s now starting to compile a number of at-bats with a large gap from his last regular playing time. But I don’t see anything from a mechanics standpoint that’s a flaw.
“This is a guy that’s gone through a lot. But we still feel like he’s going to be an above average hitter, and just of late he hasn’t had a whole lot to show for it.
Sizemore, who is in the starting lineup Wednesday night against Yankees right-hander Michael, batting first, playing right field, has made 15 starts in the outfield this season, including his first career appearances in right field and left field. From Friday through Sunday against the Orioles at Fenway, Sizemore started at a different outfield position in each game.
Sizemore, 31, has appeared in 856 games over his career, making 842 starts. He had never played a corner outfield position in the majors before this season. He is still getting accustomed to the corners. On one play in right field Tuesday night, he had to come in a long way, attempting to field Brian Roberts’ fly with the ball dropping in front of him for a single to load the bases.
“He’s not as comfortable as he would be in center field and we recognize that,” Farrell said. “He played a deep right field last night so the ball ends up in front of him, eh comes up just a little bit short”
It appears Sizemore’s future with the Sox, though, will be at one of the corner outfield positions.
“Through the repetition we see him as more of a corner outfielder at his point than in center field,” Farrell said. “So we’re doing what we can to shorten down that curve to be more efficient.”