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.
Fox Sports Detroit has named Matt Shepard their new full-time play-by-play guy for Tigers games. Shepard will work with analysts Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson, who will split time.
This is the move in response to former longtime announcers Mario Impemba and Rod Allen getting suspended and later fired following an in-booth altercation in Chicago last September. The two of them, who weren’t exactly friends, reportedly fought over a chair, with conflicting reports of how serious the fight was. An anonymous witness said Allen put Impemba in a choke hold. Allen recently gave an interview in which he denied that and said it was only some pushing and shoving. Either way, it ended their 16-year team-up for Tigers games.
Shepard has worked for Fox Sports Detroit for nearly 20 years, doing fill-in play-by-play for the Tigers — he replaced Impemba for the last few weeks of last season — and for Detroit Pistons games. Gibson has been a part time analyst for the network for the past couple of seasons, splitting time with Allen. Morris has done Tigers, Blue Jays and Twins games over the years, sometimes even splitting time between the Twins and Tigers, which is rather unusual.
Shepard is pretty good at his job. While Tigers fans liked and were familiar with Impemba, there won’t be a falloff in quality. Gibson makes some good analytical points and has a surprisingly sharp and biting sense of humor about him, but his gruff and monotone delivery is not everyone’s cup of tea. You get used to it. Morris is not my cup of tea — he tends to do a lot of the “back in my day” stuff former players often do — but I’m pretty sure he could recite the dictionary on TV in Detroit and a lot of Tigers fans would tune in. Such is life.