Boom, Sizemore Returns In Style

By: T.J. Zuppe

It had been 11 months since outfielder Grady Sizemore suited up in his Indians jersey, and took to centerfield at Progressive Field.

After back-to-back injury plagued seasons in 2009 and 2010, and an off-season knee surgery, he jogged back to his old position in front of the home crowd.

It was a very welcome sight to behold, with the number “24” jersey sparkling in the spring sunlight. Sizemore was back.

Indians Outfielder Grady Sizemore

Leading off for the first time since September 3rd, 2009, he stepped to the plate in the bottom of the first inning. The at bat resulted in a ground out to second base.

Then, he strolled to the dish with one out in the third inning. He took two balls outside the strike zone, then unloaded on a 2-0 fastball, depositing it in the right field seats. He circled the bases in heroic fashion, delighting Tribe fans everywhere.

His 375-foot shot was his first round tripper since August, 27th of 2009.

Sizemore finished up 2-4 in Sunday’s 4-2 Indians’ (11-4) victory over the Baltimore Orioles. In addition to the homer, he also doubled in the fifth inning and struck out in the seventh.

“I definitely had some jitters, especially in the first at bat,” Sizemore said. “But once the game got going, I settled in and I was alright.

“I was hoping for a win today. I didn’t want to come in here and break the streak.”

Indians manager Manny Acta was proud of the way his outfielder played.

“It was very nice to see Grady come back today and make a contribution right off the bat,” Acta said. “He looked good. He was on time. It was only a game, but it was nice to see him show his power right off the bat.

“(Sizemore) was so happy today. You could tell, he was so pumped.”

For the Tribe, it was about much more than the present. It was also about the near future.

At one time, one of the most fun to watch, dynamic players in the league, the 28-year old outfielder had been relegated to a question mark.

When would Sizemore ever return, and when he did, what type of player would he be?

Unfortunately, that final answer will not come for quite some time. But now the clock can begin ticking. Most importantly, he undoubtedly makes the team better in the present.

The left field platoon has been atrocious to begin the season. Outfielders Travis Buck and Austin Kearns have left a great deal to be desired.

With Sizemore’s return to center and Michael Brantley sliding over to left, that conversation becomes a moot point. Above all else, he just wants to fit in with his current squad.

“I just like the way guys are playing right now,” Sizemore said of his teammates. “I think we’re having fun and playing good baseball.

“I just wanted to come in here and fit into that, not change anything, and be part of a winning team.”

His club knows how big of a boost he can be.

“He put on a great show and that’s just going to help us out,” Indians closer Chris Perez said. “Its a tremendous uplift for us to have him up here.”

“We feed off of him,” Acta said. “His energy is very contagious. What can I say, he’s one of the best players in the game when he’s healthy. We’re very happy to have him back.”

Even at 75% of his old production, Sizemore instantly adds a different dynamic to wherever he hits. After all, he is a three-time all-star, two-time gold glove winner, a one-time recipient of the silver slugger award.

It was only three short years ago, he was even discussed in the conversation for Most Valuable Player in the American League.

Yes, those days may be gone, but for a team with a young core like the Indians, he instantly adds some credibility to the starting nine.

Will every ballgame go as well as Sunday’s? Probably not, and it would be unfair to expect that from him.

But with Sizemore providing another reason for optimism, how can that truly be a bad thing? The bottom line – The Indians are a much better baseball team with the talented outfielder as a part it.

Welcome back, Grady. You were certainly missed.

Follow T.J. Zuppe on Twitter @TJZuppe

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2 Comments

  1. Nice piece, TJ! Sizemore was indeed a welcome site out on the field. Now to brace ourselves for the obligitory slamming by Aaron at 9:00 am this morning…

  2. Why would Hammer slam Sizemore ?!! Oh yea…Still top heavy with lefties. Add Buck who is not bad as a 4th OF and that is 4 lefties. Crowe will not be back any time soon. Grady could be trade bait, hate to say.


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