Indians’ center fielder Grady Sizemore had microfracture surgery last June and lost the season. The hope at the time was that he’d be ready for spring training. Buster Olney caught up with Sizemore and writes about it in today’s column. Sizemore is just now starting to hit off a tee and easing into running. The thinking now — still optimistic — is that he’ll be good to go by Opening Day. Buster wonders what happens if Sizemore returns to form:
If Sizemore comes back and is a star again, a whole lot of logical questions will follow: Because Sizemore’s current contract has a 2012 option for $8.5 million, would it make sense for the Indians to pick up the option? Would it make sense for them to trade him, in their effort to rebuild their pitching?
Is there a single thing the Indians have done in the past two years that makes you think that they’d pick up Sizemore’s option, regardless of how he plays? If he’s great they’ll try to trade him. If they can’t trade him, they’ll decline the option. Sizemore isn’t going to make the current Indians squad into a winner on his own. He’s popular, but not so much so that he’s going to double attendance or anything.
At a time when the Tribe has a free agent budget of less than $2 million, as was reported last week, they will almost certainly do anything they can to avoid paying $8 million to someone in 2012.
Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.
The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.
The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.
In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.