UPDATE: And now it’s official, as manager John Farrell announced today that Grady Sizemore will be the Opening Day center fielder for the Red Sox. It’ll be his first regular season game since September 22, 2011.
Grady Sizemore’s comeback has gone exceptionally well in Red Sox camp. He’s hit .333 with an .842 OPS and more walks than strikeouts, and perhaps most importantly he was able to play in three consecutive games for the first time since … well, a long time and many injuries ago.
Here’s what Sizemore told Alex Speier of WEEI.com about his status:
You definitely want to push it and test it and see how things feel. You’re definitely going to have some bumps and bruises like you would in any season or any week of baseball, but it’s all been mild stuff. Everything has been great. I’ve held up well. It’s good to get the reps. It’s nice to play consecutive days and get a better feel for timing, moving around. Everything is as good as I could have hoped for.
Sizemore was one of the best all-around players in baseball before injuries derailed his career at age 26. He hasn’t played a full, healthy season since 2008 and hasn’t played in the majors at all since 2011. And right now it looks like he’ll be the Red Sox’s starting center fielder on Opening Day. Helluva story.
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.