Sizemore downplays Sox debut after two years out of MLB

Sizemore downplays Sox debut after two years out of MLB
February 27, 2014, 4:30 pm
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A crowd of 15 or so reporters gathered around Grady Sizemore's locker Thursday, and the veteran outfielder, turning to face a small army of microphones and notebooks, seemed bemused by all the attention.
     
All of this for two hitless at-bats? In a spring training game? Against a college team, no less?
     
But Sizemore knows that as he attempts to come back after missing the last two seasons and having played just 104 games in the previous two years before that layoff, everything he does is somewhat newsworthy.
     
So there he was, answering one wave of questions after another, displaying the kind of patience that he's needed to deal with all the physical setbacks he's suffered in recent years.
     
"I'm happy to get out there and just get back into games," said Sizemore after the Red Sox' 5-2 win over Northeastern University. "Honestly, it didn't feel like a big deal. I know it was a big moment for me, just to get back out there. But once I was out there, I didn't feel like it was any different than anything other than a spring training game. I just kind of focused what I normally focus on and that was that."
     
Sizemore hadn't played in a game of any sort since Sept. 22, 2011, some two and a half years ago. But, no he didn't feel anything special when he took the field in the top of the first.
     
"You would think (it would feel special), but not really," said Sizemore. "I just kind of approached it like any other game - tried to get ready and play it like it was any other game. I didn't feel any more (rusty) than normal. It was like the first spring training game of any off-season."
     
Sizemore got two at-bats -- he flied to center in the first and lined out to left in the second. But results aren't what he's focused on.
     
"I feel like each day, I'm able to build off the previous," he said, "and just keep moving forward."
     
For the time being, Sizemore must strike a delicate balance, finding out what he can do successfully without trying to do too much. After putting both balls in play, Sizemore ran full speed out of the box though it was obvious both balls were going to be caught.
     
"I want to push it," he said. "I'm not trying to take it easy. Obviously, I want to be cautious and be aware of what I've gone through, but I want to give it a good effort and just make sure everything feels good."
     
The true test for Sizemore will come Friday morning, when he wakes up and determines how he feels after his first game in too long.
     
"We take that approach every day -- how's the body responding?," he said. "This will be the first time in a long time that I've had games, so with that intensity, we'll definitely check to see how things are tomorrow. I guess you'd expect maybe to more sore than normal and not to get too frustrated with that. If I come in feeling fine, we'll know I can push it more and continue to build up my innings and go from there."
     
Sizemore won't spend much time breaking down every element of his game. His swing and his rhythm at the plate may take time, but those aren't of critical importance this early.
     
"Right now, the question is how the body's holding up each day," he said. "I'm not really focused on much more than just getting into shape and getting the reps and kind of getting my timing down. I'm not worried about (results). For me, it's more of a physical thing and just getting back into baseball shape and getting conditioned. I think if I'm healthy and I continue to work hard, I'll be on a good spot from a baseball skills standpoint."
     
After being away from the game for two straight years, Sizemore has a newfound appreciation for the little things.
     
"I've enjoyed everything," he said of the process. "Not just the games, but just being here, getting the work done . . . I appreciate all of it. I have fun every day I come in here. I can't wait to get back to the ballpark. Normally, spring training is kind of a grind. But I'm enjoying every day."