Sizemore Injury Opens Several Doors
By Tschanen Brandyberry
Grady Sizemore started the 2011 season on the DL and it looks like he might kick off 2012 there, too. However the move could mean the difference between spending Opening Day at AAA-Columbus or in Cleveland for Lonnie Chisenhall.
The Indians announced Friday that Sizemore was being shut down from baseball activities. According to reports on Twitter by those covering spring training and the organization, the centerfielder strained his back two weeks ago while fielding ground balls.
“I feel awful for Grady. He has worked so diligently in his rehab,” Indians GM Chris Antonetti said in a post on the Indians’ Twitter account.
Sizemore’ one-year, $5 million contract he signed in November made him one of the five position players to whom the Indians committed guaranteed money. Because the Indians also struck a deal with third basemen Jack Hannahan, and the money tied up in Casey Kotchman, Shin-Soo Choo and Travis Hafner, it looked like Chisenhall could begin the 2012 season in Columbus.
If Sizemore isn’t able to go at some point during spring training, the Tribe could go with an outfield of Choo, Michael Brantley and Aaron Cunningham, whom the Indians acquired in the off-season from San Diego for Cory Burns.
The injury also opens up the possibility of Shelley Duncan picking up a larger role in 2012.
While many probably thought Sizemore’s knees would give out first, it’s not like the Indians truly were counting on Sizemore for all 162 games. Tribe Manager Manny Acta told the “Really Big Show” earlier this month that Sizemore would have scheduled days off in order to keep him healthy.
The injury also makes the Indians’ numerous spring training invitations a little more important. The team extended invites to five outfielders – Trevor Crowe, Chad Huffman, Fred Lewis, Felix Pie and Ryan Spilborghs.
Sizemore in November signed a one-year, $5 million contract. The contract includes multiple incentives worth $4 million – an amount he is unlikely to see in light of this injury. He would earn a $250,000 bonus when he reaches 450 and 475 plate appearances, plus $500,000 for every 25 appearances after that.