TAMPA — Yankees lefthander CC Sabathia turned on the television to watch the Cardinals-Red Sox game Monday afternoon and quickly took notice of his old teammate, Grady Sizemore.
Sizemore was 3 for 4 with a double and made two highlight catches in center field.
“He looked good,” said Sabathia. “That’s the Grady Sizemore I know. If he’s healthy, that’s the guy.”
Sabathia was a promising young starter when Sizemore broke in with the Indians in 2004 and had his best seasons. He remembers the center fielder quickly becoming one of the best players in the game. Injuries idled Sizemore for two full seasons and now he’s making a comeback with the Sox.
“It’s just good to see him healthy and back out on the field,” Sabathia said.
Sabathia believes Sizemore can again become a productive player.
“It was my first time seeing him play,” said Sabathia. “You’d think his timing would be off or something would be off. He hit a ball off the wall off a lefty. He looked good. When you’ve got talent like that, anything is possible.
“He was so much fun to watch when I played with him. He was young and full of energy and kind of took over the game. It was just fun to watch.”
Sizemore did not play Tuesday against New York but is scheduled to play in a minor league game Wednesday before facing the Yankees Thursday night.
Jackie Bradley Jr., who is competing for playing time with Sizemore, was 1 for 4 with a double in an 8-1 loss against the Yankees. Bradley is 7 of 37 (.189) in spring training.
“What we’re homing in on is not a batting average but the quality of the at-bats, and they’re getting more consistent,” manager John Farrell said.
Farrell has spoken positively about Bradley throughout camp, but the Red Sox are preparing for the possibility of starting the season with Sizemore in center field and sending Bradley back to Pawtucket.
To increase their depth in center field, the Sox are planning to use Shane Victorino and even Daniel Nava at the position before spring training ends.
Victorino is a former Gold Glove center fielder who the Red Sox feel is better suited for right field at this stage of his career. Nava has played five games in center field over the course of his professional career, one in the majors.
Victorino, Farrell said, is willing to play center, if needed.
“He’s aware, and we’ve remained consistent that our intention is to keep him in right field as much as possible,” Farrell said. “He’s fully on board with that.
“There might be a time in a given game where he might end up in center field for a couple or three innings if we’ve done something with a pinch-hit situation.”
Doubront is off
In his first two starts against major league teams during spring training, Felix Doubront threw six scoreless innings and allowed only three hits. On Tuesday, against a Yankees lineup that included seven regulars, the story changed.
Doubront allowed seven runs on 10 hits and three walks over 3⅔ innings. He gave up four runs in the second inning, two on a single by Mark Teixeira.
“Changeup was bad. Left the pitches over the plate. One of those days,” Doubront said. “My arm feels good. The release point was hard to find today.”
Farrell felt Doubront didn’t get into the same tempo he had in his previous starts.
Bee safe in left field
The game was delayed for seven minutes in the third inning when a swarm of bees gathered around the left field corner.
“I heard them before I saw them,” left fielder Mike Carp said. “I turned around and knew I had to get out of there.”
Members of the grounds crew sprayed the area with insect repellent and the bees eventually left for a less-noxious area.
“That was a first for me,” Farrell said. “Never saw a game delayed by bees.”
Bailey starts over
Jacoby Ellsbury isn’t the only member of the 2013 Red Sox who signed with the Yankees. Lefthanded reliever Matt Thornton and righthanded reliever Andrew Bailey joined him.
Bailey understandably termed his two seasons with the Red Sox as “very frustrating.” Injuries limited him to 49 appearances and he had a 4.91 ERA. Bailey had extensive shoulder surgery in July last season and isn’t expected to pitch for the Yankees until August or September.
The Red Sox traded outfielder Josh Reddick and two prospects to Oakland to obtain Bailey before the 2012 season. Reddick has since hit 44 home runs and won a Gold Glove.
“I was supposed to be out there and close games out for the Red Sox,” Bailey said. “Unfortunately I wasn’t healthy enough to do that. But playing in that city is something special.”
The Yankees signed Bailey to one-year deal worth $2.5 million with a team option for 2015. The Connecticut resident wanted the opportunity to play close to home and rehabilitate from his surgery with the assistance of a medical staff.
The Red Sox, Bailey said, had some interest in retaining him.
“There were certain things I was looking for in the deal to help out my family,” he said. “[The Yankees] afforded me that opportunity.”
Bailey expects to stay in Tampa for a few months as he recovers. The goal is to pitch before the end of the season.
Breslow coming back
Lefthanded reliever Craig Breslow is scheduled to appear in his first game Monday. That would be only a week before Opening Day. “We’ll see,” Farrell said when asked if Breslow could be on the roster. “He’s feeling really good.” Farrell said the Red Sox intend to carry three lefthanders in their bullpen. Drake Britton could find a spot if Breslow is not ready.