The Indians have hired former Major League outfielder Grady Sizemore as an advisor to their player development staff, reports Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. While there’s no specific mention of Sizemore formally retiring, Bastian does reference the the playing career of Sizemore, who was a superstar-caliber outfielder with Cleveland early in his career, in the past tense.
Per Bastian, the 34-year-old Sizemore reached out to Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti over the winter to gauge what type of opportunities were available with the team. That initial conversation led to Sizemore’s current role, where he’ll be with the team’s Major League squad and work with the outfielders early in Spring Training. After a couple of weeks, Bastian continues, Sizemore will transition over to the minor league camp and work with the team’s younger outfielders.
It seems that Sizemore’s ultimate role with the team is yet to be determined, as GM Mike Chernoff tells Bastian that the Indians are trying to “expose him to as much as we can.” Sizemore has participated in closed-door meetings between the front office and the coaching staff, during which each player is discussed and evaluated at length. “When you have a guy of that stature, he’s welcome to help wherever he can,” skipper Terry Francona told Bastian.
If Sizemore’s playing days are indeed behind him, he’ll wrap up his career with a .265/.349/.457 batting line, 150 homers and 143 steals through 1101 games and 4724 plate appearances. Those basic stats, however, don’t tell the full story of Sizemore, who was one of the must dynamic talents in all of Major League Baseball in his early 20s.
Acquired alongside Brandon Phillips and Cliff Lee in the 2002 blockbuster that sent Bartolo Colon to the Expos, Sizemore made his Major League debut as a 21-year-old in 2004 and never looked back. From 2005-08, he was on a short list of MLB’s best players, hitting .281/.372/.496 with three All-Star nominations, two Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger. During that meteoric rise to fame, Sizemore received MVP votes in four straight seasons and averaged 27 homers, 28 steals and 160 games played per season.
Unfortunately (not only for Sizemore but for baseball fans everywhere), an elbow injury cut short Sizemore’s 2009 campaign and ultimately required surgery. Upon returning in 2010, he incurred a knee injury that also required surgery and would cut into his 2011 playing time as well. The barrage of injuries didn’t stop there, as Sizemore had back surgery in March 2012 and missed both the 2012 and 2013 seasons in their entirety. Sizemore did return to the diamond in 2014-15, spending time with the Red Sox, Phillies and Rays. In those 209 games, though, his .242/.303/.366 batting line and diminished speed/power no longer resembled the output of his brief but brilliant peak.
Though injuries cut short a potentially sensational career, Sizemore’s natural ability and experience will undoubtedly give him plenty of insight and advice to pass on to Cleveland’s younger players in Spring Training and, potentially, throughout the year (depending on his ultimate role with the club). We at MLBTR wish Sizemore the very best in his new career track and whatever other opportunities he may pursue in the future.