Here comes Grady Sizemore again — loud as ever. All-out abandon on the field and unassuming nature off of it make Sizemore a favorite of bosses, teammates and fans. He could appear in a third consecutive All-Star game this summer, but one would never know an All-Star is in the room when Sizemore peeks out from behind a pillar in the home clubhouse at Progressive Field.
Here comes Grady Sizemore again — loud as ever.
“His maturing as a major-league player has been gradual,” Indians Manager Eric Wedge said of his 25-year-old outfielder. “We didn’t want anything to be forced. He’s a quiet kid by nature. But, the presence can be very loud. Presence is sometimes overlooked when it comes to leadership. The presence, the style of play, has always been there with Grady.”
All-out abandon on the field and unassuming nature off of it make Sizemore a favorite of bosses, teammates and fans. He could appear in a third consecutive All-Star game this summer, but one would never know an All-Star is in the room when Sizemore peeks out from behind a pillar in the home clubhouse at Progressive Field.
Sizemore laughed when a reporter approached him during spring training, wondering if he had mulled asking the Indians to renegotiate the six-year, $23.45 million contract he signed in 2006 — a contract that now looks like a steal for the Indians.
“Redo it? Seriously?” Sizemore asked. “Not at all. I was really happy when the Indians came to me and offered me that deal, and I’m still happy. I still love being part of this team. I’m going to be here many more years.”
Sizemore may be underpaid, but certainly not underproductive. His third full big-league season saw him hit .277 with 24 home runs, 78 RBIs and 33 stolen bases. He also set career highs in walks (101) and strikeouts (155).
“I’m not satisfied with my average,” Sizemore said. “It did drop. I can’t pinpoint one thing. I just never really got hot like I wanted to. I still felt like I was producing and helping my team out, just not the way I wanted.”
The high number of strikeouts would be a concern for many leadoff hitters, but Sizemore is trying not to obsess over it.
“I want to increase my number of walks, but I still want to be a good hitter,” Sizemore said. “I’d like to keep my walks up and my strikeouts down instead of having both numbers through the roof. I’m not thinking about strikeouts, just having good ABs. I could care less what the number is. I just don’t want to give at-bats away or go up there not following my game plan or swinging at bad pitches.”
It’s not out of line to say Sizemore was the scourge of the Grapefruit League this spring, batting .478 with seven of his 11 hits going for extra bases, including a team-high five home runs.
Sizemore’s defense has never suffered, even when his plate appearances were producing uneven results. He won his first career Gold Glove in 2007 for his play in center field.
“The Gold Glove was an honor,” Sizemore said. “My defense is something I take pride in, but I didn’t expect it. There are tons of guys on the highlights. Only a few do it every day.”
Wedge appreciates knowing that he will get Sizemore’s best every day.
“Grady is a young player who is capable of being better,” Wedge said. “Most importantly, he wants to get better.”
Reach Repository sports writer Andy Call at (330) 580-8346 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.