In return, Sizemore looks back fondly on time in Cleveland
Former Indians centerfielder and fan favorite Grady Sizemore made his first return to Progressive Field on Monday. Aside from making an unfamiliar trek to the visitors’ clubhouse, Sizemore found himself starting in right field — something he has never done in Cleveland.
The 31-year-old said it felt weird to be back in the city, especially with a different jersey.
“It feels weird being back on the other side,” Sizemore said. “The family vibe I got here [stands out]; it still feels like home. I started here, and it’s kind of still a piece of me.”
Sizemore’s outstanding career in Cleveland was marred by a series of injuries, which kept him out of the lineup and on the disabled list for several months. Despite working tirelessly with the Indians trainers to come back healthy, he eventually took three years off and later signed with Boston.
“I think [the injuries were] a combination of a lot of things,” Sizemore said. “Trying to play through those injuries probably created more problems than anything, but I can’t say that it’s because of how I play.
“[The Indians training staff] went above and beyond for me. If anything, they were as frustrated as I was, just trying to find a reason behind it and find a solution. They were very helpful; they gave me every opportunity and went to every length to try to help me get through that. Even when I wasn’t with them, they were still helping me every step of the way.”
In a sense, Sizemore has picked up right where he left off, surprising none other than himself. In 43 games with the Red Sox this season, Sizemore is hitting .232 with two home runs, and five stolen bases (in 5 attempts).
“I’m surprised at how I’ve been able to hold up, being gone for so long and just coming back and not having any major issues,” he said. “I got used to having a lot of setbacks the last couple years, so I’m just happy I’ve been able to stay healthy and stay on the field. The more I’m out there, the better I feel.”
While he was sidelined for a few years, the three-time All-Star (2006-2008) spent a lot of time following his former team and checking in on his old teammates and friends.
One friend, in particular, stood out.
“Mike [Brantley] is probably one of the most underrated players in the game. I think he’s getting a lot of recognition now, but still probably not what he deserves. If you watch what he’s done the last couple of years, it’s pretty impressive,” Sizemore said. “He’s only going to get better. I’m happy for him, happy to see him out here having success, and I only think he’s going to get better.”
What about Brantley impressed Sizemore the most?
“His approach to the plate — so calm, so confident. I’ve never seen a guy go out there the first couple of years and just look like a pro against nasty lefties or whoever it was,” he said. “He just never seemed to swing at a bad pitch, and even his outs were line drives. He’s starting to hit for average and add some power in there, and it’s all coming together for him.”
Sizemore said he is disappointed he does not have time to visit his old hotspots around town, but he made it clear he is excited to be reunited with his former home.
“This city’s always been great to me, so I’m just happy to be back here playing,” Sizemore said. “I had nothing but good memories here. Great teammates, great guys all around. This is kind of still home for me. It’s good to be back.”
–TribeVibe contributor Megan Golden