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John Farrell on optimism about Grady Sizemore, the value and role of Brandon Workman

02.17.14 at 4:34 pm ET
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New Red Sox outfielder Grady Sizemore (WEEI.com photo)

New Red Sox outfielder Grady Sizemore (WEEI.com photo)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The great unknown in Red Sox camp is outfielder Grady Sizemore. It’s virtually impossible to project what he might be able to offer the Red Sox in 2014, in no small part because he hasn’t played in any kind of game since 2011. Indeed, the mere question of whether he’ll play at all for the Red Sox in the coming season is a fair one, a fact reflected in the structure of the contract he signed with Boston for a $750,000 guarantee with bonuses that could increase the value of the deal to $6 million.

For now, the majority of his attention in the training room is on his knees. But there appears to be initial signs of optimism from the Red Sox that they can keep the oft-injured outfielder — who underwent microfracture surgery on both knees — healthy.

‘€œThe majority of his maintenance work is going into right now. But our medical staff feels confident they’€™ll be able to keep him on the field,” said Sox manager John Farrell. “He feels great right now. That’€™s probably the first area. Overall, we’€™ll just see how the tolerance holds up. It’€™s been two years so we’€™ve got some levels to go through here.”

Sizemore has never played a position other than center field in his career. But this spring, the Sox plan to have him play both center and left field.

– Even before Ryan Dempster announced his intention not to pitch in 2014, Farrell and the Sox had planned to stretch out Brandon Workman as a starter. That remains the case now, with the idea that he can be prepared to work out of the bullpen at the very end of spring training if necessary. Along those lines, it’s worth recalling that Workman had no preparation for his bullpen role in the minor leagues last year; he was shifted from the rotation to relief on the fly, at a time when the Sox felt like the cost of acquiring relievers in trades was prohibitive. At that time, Farrell placed his complete trust in the evaluations of the Red Sox’ player development staff and front office, since Workman hadn’t been invited to big league camp in 2013, thus meaning that the Sox manager’s familiarity with him was based almost exclusively on the reports of others.

“We were looking at ways to fortify the bullpen. Because of the cost of the guys out there, let’s take a look at guys internally first. There was a feeling that with Brandon particularly, in shorter stints, the velocity might spike a little bit, and it did. And we’re fortunate to have a guy like that in the system,” said Farrell. “That’s where our player development staff, whether it’s Bob Kipper in Portland, or Rich Sauveur, their recommendations and their communication with us was spot on with him.”

Though Workman gained Farrell’s trust in the bullpen, the Sox manager continues to view him as having more value as a starter.

“If he’s not closing, then you’d always look to the innings out of the rotation as being much more valuable,” said Farrell. “He possesses a very strong focus and concentration. He’s not afraid to pitch in. He has a lot of the attributes you’re looking for for an innings-eating starter and a guy that’s going to pitch quality innings.”

– Reliever Francisco Cordero, who agreed to a minor league deal on Sunday, is expected to be ready to take part in the pitchers and catchers’ workout on Tuesday.

– Farrell said that the team will define catcher A.J. Pierzynski‘s workload so that he has an opportunity to catch all of the team’s pitchers and familiarize himself with a mostly unfamiliar staff in game situations. Farrell said that, when the club talked with Pierzynski as a free agent, it outlined a potential breakdown of roughly 100-110 games for Pierzynski and 50-60 for backup David Ross. The breakdown could occur based on whether a righty or lefty is on the hill, with Ross perhaps in line for the lion’s share of starts against left-handed pitchers and Pierzynski starting primarily against righties.

– Right-hander Jake Peavy was awaiting an examination of his irritated right middle finger, but the hand specialist who was expected in Fort Myers had been delayed by weather. Farrell expected Peavy to be seen on Monday evening.

Read More: A.J. Pierzynski, Brandon Workman, grady sizemore, spring training 2014
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