I have to admit that I am a sucker for comeback stories. Sure, a part of me understands that a guy like Grady Sizemore has made millions of dollars in his short career and whether he ever played again wouldn’t change that he has been more fortunate than most folks on the planet. But still, sports reflects life and Sizemore has been to the bottom and at least for one game, had come all the way back.
Admit it: Most of us were pretty skeptical when the Red Sox signed Grady Sizemore to a contract and invited him to their Spring Training camp. After all, he had not played in a MLB game since September 22, 2011. That was a long, long time ago. And we all had been privy to the litany of his physical problem: the microfracture surgeries, the elbow, back and hernia surgeries. It did not seem as if he was ever going to be healthy again.
We had seen him go from one of the best young players of the game from 2005 to 2008 when he compiled 26.8 fWAR, to a shell of that in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Sizemore became an example of just how fleeting success can be. He was washed up at the age of 28.
So there was a bit of disbelief when the reigning World Series champs announced the signing. After all, the Red Sox had let Jacoby Ellsbury walk knowing they had Jackie Bradley Jr. in the wings. They had Daniel Nava and Mike Carp. What did they need Grady Sizemore for anyway? And why would they take a risk on a guy who had not played for the last two full seasons?
Some things seem inevitable. Guys like Reyes for the Blue Jays and DeJesus for the Rays were going to get hurt. Knowing these things, we waited for the inevitable to happen to Sizemore. Surely he would get hurt at some point during the spring. But he did not. And he had a very good spring and became the biggest story in the Red Sox Nation. And Lo and Behold, he not only made the team, but was tabbed as the starting center fielder over Bradley.
Seriously? How did that happen? Give the Red Sox credit. They are a smart organization. There had to be some within the organization that did not feel that Bradley was ready and that there is doubt that he will hit in the Majors. Bradley has looked over-matched by Big League pitchers.
The Red Sox took a long shot. And it came up aces. There is no guarantee, of course, that Grady Sizemore will either play well all season or stay healthy. There will continue to be doses of skepticism as time goes forward.
But for one glorious Opening Day, Grady Sizemore looked like the player of 2009 when he was on top of the world. He singled in his first at bat and then homered in his second. It was amazing to watch.
No, the Red Sox did not win the game. And Sizemore would probably have preferred that they did. But for one game at least, Grady Sizemore beat the odds and after a two-year absence, took center stage again and performed.
Let’s take this one game at a time for Grady Sizemore and see what happens. And whether or not you love or hate the Red Sox, his story is one to root for and to marvel. I was thrilled for him. And I was thrilled for baseball.