Grady Sizemore, who turned down a deal with the Reds to sign a $750,000 contract with the Red Sox, arrived at spring training yesterday and sounded pretty optimistic about his health status after sitting out all of 2012 and 2013.
Sizemore hasn’t been healthy and effective since way back in 2009, but he’s still just 31 years old and can earn up to $6 million from Boston via incentives.
Here’s what he told Rob Bradford of WEEI.com:
I’m healthy. I’m good to go. There will still be some things that I’m working on this spring, just trying to get back to 100 percent. I’m not necessarily in baseball shape but I’m in good physical shape, moving around good. I’m just looking forward to playing baseball.
It’s all going to be bad early. Not bad, but it’s going to be rusty. Any offseason you come in you feel rusty, but when you haven’t played in two years and the better part of four years you’ve been injured. Timing is going to be off. It’s going to be tough. Obviously it’s going to be a big adjustment early. Just not going getting too frustrated, knowing you’re going to go through some bumps early on and that’s expected.
Sizemore is basically a $750,000 lottery ticket for the Red Sox, which is a drop in the MLB payroll bucket. Last time he played a full, healthy season he finished 10th in the MVP voting, won a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger, and made the All-Star team. But for a sense of how long ago that was: Evan Longoria was the AL Rookie of the Year.
The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.
It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:
On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:
“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”
Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.
A couple of weeks ago our president wrote one of his more . . . vexing tweets. He was talking about immigration when he whipped out the phrase . . . “Easy D”:
No one was quite sure what he meant by Easy D. Was it the older brother of N.W.A.’s founder? The third sequel to that Emma Stone movie from a few years back? So many questions!
Baseball Twitter had fun with it, though, with a lot of people wondering how they could work it in casually to their commentary:
It wasn’t a scout who did it, but twelve days after that, a player obliged Mr. McCullough:
I have no more idea what Turner was talking about with that than Trump was. We’ll have to wait for the full story in the L.A. Times. But I am going to assume Turner was doing McCullough a solid with that one rather than commenting on the president’s tweet. Either way, I’m glad he made the effort.
And before you ask: yes, it’s a slow news day.