Now that spring training is underway, we have a firm grasp of what the Rays roster will look like for the beginning of the 2013 regular season with the obvious exception of the last 2-3 roster spots available. Those last few positions on the 25 man roster are usually platoon type of players, specialist pitchers, and some roster depth. While we will see the roster finalized by the start of the season, injuries occur, trades are made, and things happen throughout the year. One player that could have be an interesting option for Tampa Bay to be a second half spark if given an opportunity would be none other than Grady Sizemore.
It’s no secret that Grady has barely seen the diamond since 2009, being bit by the injury bug several times over the last 3 to 4 years, but has a history of success early in his career. Being a 3 time All-Star, 2006-2008, and 2 time Gold Glove winner, 2007 & 2008, Sizemore knows what it takes to produce at the major league level. Sizemore carries a .269 career BA but that is not indicative of his true ability, hitting .281 from 2005-2008, his pre-injury years. During the peak of his performance, 2005-2008, Sizemore averaged 27 HR, 81 RBI, and 29 SB all while playing well above average defense in center field (28.6 UZR/150).
Grady Sizemore’s injury concerns essentially began in the spring of 2009 with a groin injury, forcing him to pullout of the World Baseball Classic. From there injury concerns seemed to spiral out of control derailing the career of the one of the most prominent center fielders in the game. In September 2009 Sizemore elected to have elbow surgery, as the Cleveland Indians were already mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, followed by surgery on his lower abdomen a week later to remove a hernia, related to the groin injury in early spring. Hoping to come back healthy in 2010 he was again derailed after just 33 games, this time having microfracture surgery on his left knee. Sizemore showed some promise in 2011, slamming 21 doubles and 10 home runs in just 71 games, but more new issues and then a sports hernia problem derailed Sizemore for the third year in a row. Then in 2012, Sizemore began the season on the 60 day DL due to back surgery in spring training and suffered several setbacks throughout the season, not once playing in a major league game.
Sizemore just underwent microfracture surgery on his right knee in September, and does not want to commit to a team until he is ready to play again, according to his agent, Joe Urbon. “It could be Opening Day. It could be midseason,” Urbon said. “Midseason is more likely.” But even if Sizemore isn’t even going to try to play for the next few months, he still might be able to help a major league team in the second half of the season, and the Rays could be that team willing to give him a chance.
Andrew Friedman and the Rays have a history of successes with low-risk, high-reward moves that always seem to pan out one way or another. A one year deal to see what Grady Sizemore has left in the tank to give and could showcase his talents once again could make sense for Tampa Bay, especially if they’re in contention for the playoffs. The Rays have nothing to lose signing Sizemore at some point in the season and seeing if the player that electrified baseball fans with his incredible all-around game from 2005 to 2008 still has the ability to contribute in the major leagues.