Well that didn’t take long at all.
As soon as camp opens Grady Sizemore finds himself back on the disabled list. This time it’s with a bad back which was operated on yesterday morning and will keep him sidelined anywhere from 8-12 weeks… or longer. This shouldn’t really be that big of a surprise to anyone who doesn;t actually work inside of the Indians front office. Apparently they were the only individuals who actually though Sizemore could be relied on for 100+ games this season. Oh, and they gave him $5 million too. You guys are the best.
What this ultimately means is there will be a free for all for the now vacant left field spot. Michael Brantley will slide over to centerfield, a position where statistically he rated far inferior last season. However, that was a very limited sample size. Given more consistent playing time perhaps he can turn into the center fielder the Indians have billed him as.
The one positive in all of this is the fact that the Indians have done a better job of anticipating injuries this offseason and invited a boat load of outfielders to spring training. Among those in contention will be Felix Pie, Russ Canzler, Aaron Cunningham, Brian Spilborghs, and Matt LaPorta, just to name a few. If it were up to me and everything played out right, I’d put my money on LaPorta.
The Indians basically gave his first base job away… again… and he needs to find a spot in the lineup somehow someway. If that means digging out his old outfield glove and giving it a go out there again, then why the hell not. Maybe he’ll hit better playing left field. It’s a far less stressful position than first bas (granted not by much) and might allow him to focus more on his hitting. The Brewers did the same thing with Ryan Braun, they moved him from third base to left field and his offensive stats blew up. Of course maybe he was on steroids, but it’s a good example.
Whether or not LaPorta can win the starting left fielder job will be interesting to see. If I were him, I’d do my damnedest to try to win it. He needs to have a good spring and he needs to feel like he belongs. Going back to triple A will do him no good at this point. We know he can hit there. We need to see it at the big league level.
This may be his last chance to prove he’s the player we all thought he would be.