Grady Sizemore just played back-to-back games for the first time this spring and is gaining traction toward becoming the starting center fielder for the Red Sox on Opening Day, according to MLB.com's Ian Browne.
That's the same Sizemore -- now 31 years old, mind you -- who hasn't sniffed 500 plate appearances in a season since 2009 and hasn't appeared in a single big-league game since 2011. He's playing well this spring and brings a unique set of advantages to the Red Sox in the unlikely event that he's able to stay healthy, but does this actually say more about Jackie Bradley Jr. than it does about Sizemore?
Bradley won a starting job in the outfield out of camp a year ago but floundered in his first month in the majors, leading to a demotion to Triple-A Pawtucket. He hit well there but never found his groove with the Red Sox, finishing the year with a .189/.280/.337 line in 107 plate appearances. His struggles against big-league competition, or some semblance of it, have continued this spring. Bradley has a .190/.261/.238 line in 23 Grapefruit League plate appearances entering Tuesday and had the same amount of hits (4) as Sizemore, who had 11 fewer plate appearances.
Spring training results are nothing to get worked up about either way. After all, Bradley tore the cover off the ball last spring before his aforementioned struggles in his big-league debut. How a player performs in the spring certainly isn't indicative of his upside, and Bradley still rates tremendously in that department. However, instead of banking on what Bradley might provide in the future, the Red Sox appear to be dreaming about what Sizemore has done in the past. And, though it's awfully impressive -- he hit .281/.372/.496 with 107 homers and 115 steals from 2005 through 2008 -- it's probably not realistic going forward.
So what does that say about Bradley? If Sizemore does land the starting gig, that means the win-now Red Sox don't feel Bradley's ready to take the job for good yet, and will probably ship him to Pawtucket as a result. But that doesn't mean they're down on him. Rather, more time in Triple-A would give Bradley the additional seasoning he needs and help the Red Sox avoid a potential roster crunch.