Grady Sizemore is in Sunday’s lineup for the Boston Red Sox, hitting seventh and playing right field against the Cleveland Indians, the team he starred for before his body betrayed him, causing the outfielder to miss two full seasons before signing a team-friendly deal with Boston in an attempt to resurrect his once-promising career.
It will game be No. 52 for the 31-year-old Sizemore, and most likely one of his last.
Starting right fielder Shane Victorino will be returning to the lineup within the next week, giving a shot in the arm to what has been one of the worst outfields in recent memory. A guy who brings energy, athleticism and offensive spark to the roster, Victorino is just what the Red Sox struggling lineup needs. Sizemore appears to be odd-man out in the equation.
Daniel Nava appears to have regained his form from 2013, in which he hit .303 with 12 home runs and 66 RBI, since being recalled from Pawtucket on June 4, going 11-for-27 in nine games with two doubles, a run batted in, and two runs scored. The addition of Nava has allowed Jonny Gomes to return to his normal role as a platoon player, and it is paying off. Slotted in the lineup Saturday against lefty starter T.J. House, Gomes went 2-for-4 with an RBI despite a Red Sox 3-2 loss to Cleveland.
Jackie Bradley Jr. has battled himself at the plate all season, but has looked much better since being given three days off for a mental rest while getting his mechanics back together. He has hits in last three games, going 4-for-11 with three runs scored in those games. Meanwhile, he’s played a Gold Glove-caliber center field all year, ranked among the top four in virtually every defensive category among major league center fielders.
And Brock Holt has to play somewhere, too.
So, that leaves Sizemore, who is hitting .221 with a .621 OPS in 200 plate appearances for the Red Sox. He hasn’t hit a home run since Apr. 11, when he jumped on a CC Sabathia offering in the Red Sox’s 4-2 win over the New York Yankees, a span of 168 plate appearances. He is shy of the player he was in Cleveland offensively, defensively and on the basepaths.
Sizemore has just one start in the last four games, making it more apparent that we’re seeing the last of Sizemore in a Red Sox uniform.
It would be great if the Red Sox could give Sizemore more time and see if he can come around at some point, but at 31-37 and 4.5 games out of the second Wildcard spot, the Sox can’t afford to play the waiting game. The team needs help now.
Sizemore looked like the making of a great story with a strong Spring Training and a great start to the regular season, highlighted by an Opening Day home run in Baltimore. The book closed on that great story long ago, as Sizemore is hitting just .192 with a .574 OPS and 10 extra base hits in 41 games going back to Apr. 15.
The book of Sizemore in a Red Sox uniform will officially be closed sooner rather than later.