Grady Sizemore has 'a lot of things driving him'

Grady Sizemore has 'a lot of things driving him'

July 26, 2014, 5:45 pm
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Grady Sizemore entered Saturday night's game against Arizona 14 for 41 (.341) with four doubles, six runs and one stolen base in 11 games as a Phillie. (USA Today Images)

On a winning team, a reclamation project like Grady Sizemore would not be receiving much playing time right now. 

Most winning teams have their outfields set by July, but the Phillies obviously don't fit that description.

One of the perks of a lost season is the ability to give chances to players who may serve a role for you in the future. 

Sizemore has gotten that chance, and so far looks like a piece the Phils could use moving forward.

"He's really been all about getting reps," manager Ryne Sandberg said of Sizemore. "He's glad to be back in the big leagues and showing what he can do.

"He's got a lot of things driving him, and it's really impressive to see him hang in there against some tough left-handed pitchers. Having quality at-bats, driving it the other way. He's a professional hitter."

Sizemore entered Saturday night's game against Arizona hitting .341 with four doubles and an .825 OPS in 11 games as a Phillie. He's gone 12 for 30 as the Phils' leadoff man, and he was back atop their lineup in the second game of a three-game series against the Diamondbacks.

In the series opening win over Arizona, Sizemore doubled twice and stole third base.

He had a unique blend of power and speed during his prime years in Cleveland before a series of injuries. The speed aspect of Sizemore's game is the one he's still waiting on.

"I think the running part of it will come along as he continues to play, whether it's the rest of this year or the offseason or into next year," Sandberg said. "That's something he's shown improvement on. That's actually the one thing he told me -- he's still feeling his way a little bit with rounding bases, with real good aggressive base running, although [Friday] night he stole third base, which was a perfect time to do it, a big set-up stolen base. 

"I think he's gaining confidence with it and I think he'll continue to gain confidence with the running part of the game and the twisting you do on a baseball field."

With the season-long struggles of Domonic Brown and the possibility of Marlon Byrd being traded before Thursday's 4 p.m. deadline, Sizemore could become a true everyday outfielder for the Phillies in the second half. 

And if he can stay healthy, there's no reason he can't be a productive outfielder with solid defense at all three spots and a ton of upside at the plate.

In his last full season, Sizemore hit .268/.374/.502 with 39 doubles, 33 homers, 90 RBIs and 38 steals for the Indians. Yes, that was 2008, the last of his All-Star seasons. But Sizemore, 31 years old, is young by recent Phillies standards.

Even if he stays healthy during the second half of the season, it will likely be hard for him to find a multi-year deal in free agency or a guaranteed starting job, making a return to the Phils a beneficial move for both sides.

But that decision is months away. For now, it's just enjoyable to see a Phillies outfielder other than Byrd producing when given the at-bats to do so.

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