Red Sox sign Grady Sizemore to major league deal

Red Sox sign Grady Sizemore to major league deal
January 22, 2014, 7:15 pm
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BOSTON - For most of the winter, it seemed as if Jackie Bradley Jr. would claim the starting center field job by default.

Now, he's got some competition.

The Red Sox signed veteran outfielder Grady Sizemore to a one-year, incentive-laden deal Wednesday and plan to have him compete with Bradley in spring training.

According to a source, Sizemore's deal includes a base of $750,000 with incentives that could earn him as much as $6 million.

Sizemore, 31, was one of the brightest young starts in the game last decade, but saw his career derailed in recent years by a series of injuries. Sizemore has undergone surgeries to repair both knees, a sports hernia, his left elbow and his right knee in the last four years.

He has not played in a major league game since 2011 and has played total of just 104 games since the end of 2009.

"It's been frustrating,'' said Sizemore in a conference call with reporters. "No one likes dealing with injuries, and I've had my fair share. Hopefully that's behind me now and I'm just focused on moving on and starting the second half of my career.''

The Sox laid out a specific approach for Sizemore to get healthy and stay that way, which proved to be a big incentive for him signing with Boston.

"Obviously they're a great team and who wouldn't want to be a part of this group of guys and this organization?" he said. "Medically, they did a good job of laying out a game plan for me. There's a plan in place to keep me on the field and keep me healthy throughout the year. I'm doing everything needed to be ready for a baseball season."

Ironically, Sizemore was once among the most durable players in the game, playing 162 games in both 2006 and 2007. He missed a total of nine games from 2005 through 2008.

Bradley had been tabbed as the replacement in center for Jacoby Ellsbury, who signed a $153 million deal with the Yankees in December.

Now, Sizemore, who may not be 100 percent by the start of spring training, will provide Bradley with a push.

"This doesn't take Jackie out of the mix at all," manager John Farrell told reporters Wednesday night. "There's questions that we have to answer in spring training with our roster, so the fact of Grady signing and being added to our roster doesn't remove Jackie from our club. I think one of the things that Ben [Cherington] and all of us have set out to do is add to the depth of our team, and Grady certainly does that right now.

"We added Grady because, one, he’s available and, two, it provides some competition. We have to see once we get to spring training, Grady’s tolerance physically. We don’t have a projected number of games that we look at that he might be available for. We have to gradually build that up, build his enduranceup. That’s how spring training will be spent with him."

Farrell knows Sizemore well from Farrell's time as farm director with the Indians.

"Knowing who he is as a person and a player,'' said Farrell, "that certainly aided our comfort level. He’s going to do whatever’s in his power to come back from what he’s gone through physically. We’re certainly excited to have Grady in the mix."

"I got a feel for him and was around him quite a bit," Sizemore said of Farrell. "When I was talking with these guys, I knew I had a familiarity with the manager and he had seen the way I play. It made it a lot easier for my decision."

From 2005 through 2008, Sizemore averaged more than 26 homers and nearly 29 stolen bases per season while topping 100 runs scored in each of the four seasons.

It's difficult to imagine Sizemore fitting onto the 25-man roster as the Sox are currently constituted.

Assuming the Sox start the season with 12 pitchers, that leaves the nine-man starting lineup and four players on the bench: a backup catcher (David Ross); a utility infielder (Jonathan Herrera); a backup first baseman/DH/outfielder (Mike Carp); and a platoon left fielder (either Jonny Gomes or Daniel Nava).

If Sizemore proves he's healthy and capable of playing regularly, the Sox could conceivably move Carp in a deal, or return Bradley to the minor leagues for additional seasoning.