Grady Sizemore's spring has gone well enough, with the outfielder batting .381/.409/.429 in seven official Grapefruit League contests. He's only played back-to-back games once, on March 10 and 11, but the Red Sox plan to change that. In order to see how his body responds to a consistent playing schedule, Boston will play Sizemore in five games in six days, a stretch that began with Wednesday's contest.
Sizemore will play on Thursday night , followed by an off day on Friday. He'll then ramp up and play on all three of Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, giving him his first set of three in a row as well as five games in six days, a common occurrence during the regular season. It certainly won't answer every question about Sizemore's and his knees' abilities to handle a full-season schedule, but it's a starting point, which is more than the Red Sox currently have. Manager John Farrell made sure to describe it as a gradual, planned question answer:
"We'll probably have a better read on that in another 10 days,'' said Farrell. "This has been a pretty well thought out plan for the increase in volume and we're going to take every available day to process that information. We'd like to have a crysal ball, but when we signed Grady, we knew there were going to be a number of questions to be answered. He's answering some of those.
Sizemore has moved well in the outfield and on the bases (though, he isn't stealing yet), and he hasn't looked like someone who didn't pick up a bat for two years. That's likely the answered questions Farrell is referring to. The health concern, though, remains a real one, and might be the most significant question of all. If Sizemore is healthy, he'll likely be productive, but even knowing what constitutes healthy for him is unknown right now.
Is it if Sizemore feels good enough to start and play 140-plus games in 2014? Is it if he's feeling well enough to be the fourth outfielder, and can avoid the disabled list, but isn't capable of handling the rigors of a nonstop, 162-game schedule? The answer is probably either, as for what little Boston had to invest and how little Sizemore has managed to accomplish since injuries derailed his career, either is a victory.
This weekend won't tell us if he's capable of making either possible future happen, but it has the potential to tell us he can't. Everything else has worked out for Sizemore and the Red Sox to this point: five games in six days is the first real test for his comeback, and the first moment that might realistically put Jackie Bradley Jr.'s major-league job for 2014 in jeopardy.