Grady Sizemore May Never Return To The Indians
By Mike Brandyberry
The Indians might be coming to a realization that many fans felt inevitable a couple of years ago.
Grady Sizemore is done.
Ten years ago today the Indians acquired Sizemore, but his career may have already culminated. While fans have felt that Sizemore no longer can be productive and that his best days are behind him, the Indians have remained hopeful and supportive that the player who was once deemed a “player of this generation” could return to the prowess he showed from 2005 to 2008.
However, the Indians lately have started to give slight indications that Sizemore’s return isn’t just delayed, but possibly unlikely.
Last Friday, team President Mark Shapiro addressed a group of fans in a town hall-style meeting. Shapiro answered questions very candidly, honestly and thoroughly for about an hour. He already had discussed the Indians’ approach to the trade market, attendance and willingness to improve the roster when the final question asked was what else the Indians could do to compete and hold off the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers.
“We need improvement from our own players. You hope that Justin (Masterson) and Ubaldo (Jimenez) continue to pitch like they have their last few times through the rotation,” Shapiro said. “You hope (Travis Hafner) comes back and provides another power bat to our lineup. You hope the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona can come over and contribute in the second half of the season.”
Then while everyone was laughing at the reference to Carmona, Shapiro quickly added, “Maybe Grady shocks us and comes back, too, I’m not writing that off.”
Uh, shocks us and comes back? Shapiro seemed more confident in Carmona returning to the team and contributing than Sizemore, and Carmona has not been issued proper documentation to enter the country.
After not exercising Sizemore’s 2012 option on his contract, the Indians resigned him to a one-year, $5 million deal full of incentives that he could earn if healthy. Two weeks before the opening of spring training, Sizemore injured his back while rehabbing his knee that landed him on the disabled list three times last season.
The back injury resulted in back surgery in late February, followed by the announcement that Sizemore would not be ready for game action until mid-June. The Indians revealed a couple of weeks ago that Sizemore suffered some setbacks and would not be available until after the All-Star break.
Sizemore can be found most afternoons taking early batting practice before most home games. At 3 p.m., he often is in a T-shirt and shorts, taking full swings and driving the ball around Progressive Field. However, each time the question is asked about Sizemore’s return, the same answers are given: There is no timetable for a return or rehab stint, and he still can not sprint or run the bases.
Perhaps microfracture surgery to his left knee in 2010, injuries to his right knee in 2011 and back surgery this spring have eliminaTed Sizemore’s ability to run. That’s a lot of stress and rehabilitation to the lower half of his body. Whatever the reasons are, it appears the Indians now will be shocked if he returns.
When Sizemore was injured in February, the front office had to hope he could provide a spark to the offense for the second half of the season. If healthy, or even close, the Tribe could use him right now and evaluate him for a month before making a trade at the end of July. With no timetable for a return on the horizon, one has to wonder when the Indians would prefer Sizemore not return so that insurance could cover the cost of his 2012 contract. That money instead could be used to acquire a healthy bat in July.
When Sizemore was a free agent last winter, he found out no other team would give him a chance to play center field or play on a regular basis. The Indians were the only team that still had faith in him. That faith is as big of a reason as any as to why a gaping hole exists in left field.
Now, it appears even the top of the Tribe’s organization will be shocked if he returns.