Outfielder Grady Sizemore, who hasn’t seen action in a major league game since Sept. 22, 2011, will be in the Boston Red Sox’s starting lineup for one of the team’s split-squad games on Thursday.
Sizemore is making encouraging progress this spring in Fort Myers, Fla., to be able to start against either Northeastern University or Boston College.
The 31-year-old Sizemore’s career has been derailed by knee and back injuries in recent years, and he also missed parts of the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons.
Sizemore hit .224 with 10 home runs and 32 RBIs in 268 at-bats in 2011 for the Cleveland Indians. In eight seasons with the Indians, he hit .269 with 139 homers and 458 RBIs.
“Definitely better than expected,” Sizemore said Tuesday. “I didn’t expect to come in here and have continuous days without any issues and be able to keep pushing it and keep upping the volume and going from there.
“It’s an exciting day for me. Just being back out there, I’m excited. I can’t wait to get there. Obviously I’m not expecting too much. I’m just trying to go out there and have a good game and get the feel back, get my timing back, and I’m just really excited to get back out there.”
If Sizemore continues the progress, he may eventually battle with Jackie Bradley Jr. to be Boston’s starting center fielder.
“Obviously I want to go out there and prove to them that I can play,” Sizemore said. “But I’m not trying to do that all in one game. I’m just going to go out there and try to get my feet underneath me, get some looks and hopefully just get some action out there and see what it’s like to play and get a feel for it.”
Sizemore has tried previous comeback attempts, but he feels this one is different.
“There’s definitely no doubts,” Sizemore said. “I feel good, I feel strong. I think it’s just a matter of being smart and not trying to do too much.”
Red Sox hitting coach Gregg Colbrunn is impressed with Sizemore’s progress.
“I’d say, ‘Wow, this guy has a really good swing,’” Colbrunn said. “You watch him swing and you say, ‘No wonder he’s had the success he’s had in the past, because of his swing.’ It’s simple, it’s smooth, it’s under control. All the good things you look for in a swing, that’s what his swing looks like right now.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell said the team is keeping a watchful eye on Sizemore.
“We came into camp knowing we were going to have to work off his readiness and comfort level,” Farrell said. “He’s answered everything within the schedule so far. You can see the look on his face and the way he talks or answers questions about fundamentals, timing at the plate or physically how he’s responding. Thursday’s not too soon based on some of the answers he’s gotten through the workouts.”