Grady Sizemore making Red Sox’ decision difficult

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Grady Sizemore continues to make his way back after being sidelined by injuries for more than two years. He played Wednesday afternoon in what should be the first of back-to-back games. Along with March 10 and 11, it would be the second time this spring he’s played on consecutive days.

Sizemore started in center field and led off for Triple A Pawtucket, going 3 for 4 with a double in seven innings against an Orioles minor league squad. He is scheduled to go a full nine innings Thursday against the Yankees.

Whether he is on the squad at the end of camp remains to be seen. An old adage is that baseball evaluators like when players make their decisions difficult. Sizemore, 31, has been doing that for the Red Sox.


“Difficult relative to his situation,” said manager John Farrell. “And we’d like to have a crystal ball. When we signed Grady and brought him in, we knew there was going to be a number of questions to be answered. He’s answering some of those. We also look at it from a big-picture perspective and what gives us the best possibility to have a productive player over the long run.”

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Sizemore’s workload is expected to intensify. He will have Friday off, and then could play three days in a row.

Sizemore is happy with how he’s feeling. His timing at the plate and reactions in the field are coming back.

“It’s getting better and better,” he said. “I feel like each game I get little bit more comfortable and just trying to continue to see pitches and have good at-bats.”

There have been some surprises along the way.


“I didn’t know how the body was going to hold up on a day-to-day [basis], if I was going to be able to push it every day,” he said. “And so far it’s allowed me to just kind of keep upping the volume and pushing the intensity, and I still don’t feel like I’ve reached that ceiling where I went too far. So, as long as I’m there, I’m happy.”

Middlebrooks back in

Will Middlebrooks was back in the lineup Wednesday night in a 4-2 loss to the Pirates. He hyperextended his right middle finger last Thursday at the Twins and attempted to play Sunday against the Rays, but lasted only two innings in the field.

He said the finger has improved, though it’s still a little sore. He said his grip, which had bothered him on throws more than at the plate, is much better.

He is expected to get Thursday off and then play Friday and Saturday. Middlebrooks was charged with an error in the third inning Wednesday on Jose Tabata’s grounder, but finished 1 for 3 with a single and a stolen base.

Crowded area

Although Sizemore and Jackie Bradley Jr. are competing for the starting job in center field, Farrell said he would like to get some time there for others, including Shane Victorino and Daniel Nava. Victorino, who got off to slow start after offseason thumb surgery and has played just 18 innings in right, could play center by the middle of next week. Farrell said Nava could get some time there in minor league games . . . Farrell said he would start to look for a save situation for closer Koji Uehara, who has yet to pitch after the eighth inning this spring. “I think there’s a lot of merit to start to get particularly the relievers’ minds thinking along with the game and anticipating when their time is coming inside an outing,” Farrell said . . . While the Red Sox have come close several times to fielding what will likely be their regular lineup, including Wednesday night, it “will be on the field just about every day starting Sunday,” Farrell said . . . The Red Sox are tied with the Cubs for the major league lead with 23 home runs this spring. The Sox had just 17 home runs in 35 Grapefruit League games last year . . . Wednesday’s game was the Sox’ sixth of seven spring games with instant replay available. The final will be Sunday against the Rays.