Aside from a home run on Opening Day, Grady Sizemore‘s season got off to a pretty slow start. Sizemore slashed just .208/.275/.361 and, while the slow start was understandable given his two-year absence from Major League Baseball, there were some (me) that thought his career might be over.
Since the beginning of May, however, Sizemore has turned a corner on his season. In 9 games and 36 plate appearances this month, he is slashing .323/.417/.419 and suggesting that it is too early to dismiss Sizemore this season. That success this month could be attributed to added comfort at the plate or just simple luck; however, it also could be that John Farrell and management have found a proper role for the 31 year old outfielder.
After winning the center field job in spring training, Sizemore (expectedly) started the season as the starting center fielder. However, for multiple reasons, that was probably not the ideal role for Sizemore. At 31 years old and two years removed from playing professional baseball, he was unable to play everyday and his defense in center field was far from even being average. Even at the plate, however, Sizemore is no longer truly qualified to be a starting center fielder. In 28 plate appearances against left-handers this season, Sizemore has struggled to a .200/.286/.360 slash line.
However, since Shane Victorino returned to the starting lineup, John Farrell has been using Sizemore in a platoon role which better suits his current abilities. Against right-handers, Sizemore is hitting at a much superior .256/.330/.385 slash line and since moving to left field, his defense has also been much better.
The Red Sox already have too much depth in their outfield, which has forced a good player in Daniel Nava down to Triple-A. However, if Sizemore continues to fill this role then he will likely be able to avoid being the odd man out. Perhaps it’s just a hot streak, but if the Red Sox have found a solid platoon player in Sizemore, then that’s a very valuable piece of the puzzle to a 2014 Red Sox team that hasn’t quite found its identity yet.