Friday notes: John Farrell says Grady Sizemore ‘likely’ as his every day center fielder when ‘durability’ is on his side
|03.21.14 at 12:53 pm ET|
CLEARWATER, Fla. — Grady Sizemore may or may not be the starting center fielder for the Red Sox when they take the field on March 31 at Camden Yards in Baltimore. But John Farrell made it clear that at some point, likely early in the season, when he does start to play, he’ll be the starting center fielder to stay.
“We have every reason to believe at this point that he is a likely candidate to become an every day player, with durability on his side at some point,” Farrell said of the veteran outfielder who is batting .360 in eight games this spring.
Recovering from chronic knee and back ailments over the past two seasons, Sizemore came into camp not having played a competitive game since Sept. 2011. Sizemore, who’s also had a sports hernia and a bad elbow, has impressed coaches and fans alike with athletic plays in the field and a compact, efficient swing at the plate.
“There’s a progression we’re following to get to everyday play but the most encouraging thing is he has not hit the proverbial wall where we’ve bumped up against the limits and have to pull back,” Farrell said before Friday’s game against Philadelphia at Bright House Field. “We haven’t reached that yet, which is all extremely positive.”
Sizemore played in all nine innings for the first time Thursday against the Yankees and Farrell said he came through it very well and is on schedule to return to the field in a minor league game Saturday. He’ll play for the Red Sox again on Sunday and Monday and be evaluated on Tuesday morning to see how he handled the three straight games and five in six days.
“The medical exam, the medical information is guiding us with a progression. But every piece of feedback from the medical staff has been positive with the end thought that he’ll become an every day player,” Farrell said. “”There’s no template. That why we have experts in [Sports Medical Director] Dan Dyrek and our medical staff that give us that guidance.”
Despite the encouraging tone, Farrell still would not commit to Sizemore even heading north with the team when they break camp on Saturday.
“I don’t know that I would go to that point yet,” Farrell said. “I think we need to get through this coming week first.”
If Sizemore does indeed start every day in center, he will likely be the leadoff hitter as well. Thursday night, he batted first, followed by Shane Victorino, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Mike Napoli. That is a scenario that could easily translate into the regular season.
“If we have Grady in the leadoff spot, it gives us another good player,” Farrell said. “The lineup we saw [Thursday] is one scenario, one version, right-handed, left-handed matchups that are there, rest requirements might be needed. I think you know who our guys are and roughly the spots they’re in the lineup. I think we showed early in the season and late in the season that we would make changes based on matchups or who’s swinging the bat a little bit better at a given time.”
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“I think it’s critically important that he doesn’t miss that last start,” Farrell said. “So that’s something we’ll sit down and we’ll talk about.”
“I haven’t seen the replay and actually, I haven’t really sought it out to see it,” Farrell said of the line drive off the bat of Kansas City’s Salvador Perez. “I read the report, saw what happened. Scary.”
Scary is one way to put it. Chapman was actually lucky, by most accounts, that the liner hit him above the left eye and bridge of the nose and not lower. He needed nearly three hours of surgery and a metal plate to stabilize the facial fractures. Early estimates have him missing 6-8 weeks while he recovers from the fracture and the concussion. He won’t be able to actively exercise for a month while the healing process takes hold.
MLB has discussed offering some sort of protective padded cap to protect pitchers but those discussions are very preliminary.
“Honestly, I haven’t seen a prototype,” Farrell said. “It was talked about. I haven’t even seen any official announcement where these are an option. In this instance, I don’t know that there’s anything that can be done,” Farrell said. “I don’t know that any protective hat would have deflected the blow. Just hopefully, he can make a full recovery.”
Did he think of growing a beard? “No, no.”
“It’s just that fact that we know that we have an added tool. To me, it’s going to be drastically different when the regular season opens up. We don’t have the system. We walked through it logistically, yes. We’ve walked through it, critically thought how a play would unfold, the rough amount of time we would need to have the information relayed to say yay or nay to a challenge but that’s all we have to go by right now.
“We’ve already gotten through meetings on the actual functionality of the system. What we haven’t been able to rehearse is the review of the video, the pick-up of the phone, the answering it and walk through that part of it. That’s where you appreciate the ability to use replay here but it’s going to be different.
“For instance, a game like [Thursday], if this is in Yankee Stadium or Fenway, there’s probably going to be up to 16 to 20 angles because you have three stations carrying it unlike a game elsewhere where there might not be the same amount of coverage and you’re not going to same number of angles. The system is standardized and it’s installed by MLB. All that is standardized equipment [in clubhouses].”
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