Waiting for Grady

By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
On Twitter: @Castrovince

Grady Sizemore is your classic Low Talker. When you have a conversation with him, you fear you might accidentally agree to wear the Puffy Shirt.

Why, when Sizemore talked to a handful of reporters in the Indians’ clubhouse on Tuesday, teammate Jason Kipnis, whose locker is nearby, even found himself leaning in, playfully miming his utter inability to hear anything Grady was saying from just a couple feet away.

But one thing Sizemore said spoke volumes about the decline and disappearance of a once-mesmerizing player. He was asked if he had seen Michael Brantley’s over-the-wall catch in Chicago over the weekend.

“Great catch,” Sizemore said. “It’s one of those things I used to be able to do.”

Seriously, how sad a statement is that?

What’s more, neither Sizemore nor the Indians seem to have any exact idea of when he’ll actually be back on the field, trying to make such magic happen. Sizemore’s total body rehab and conditioning has allowed him to take some batting practice, but he’s not yet at the point of running bases or anything along those lines. His timetable for getting into Minor League rehab games also appears murky.

“It changes every day,” he said. “I think, regardless of when I’m ready, I’m still going to need a couple weeks [in the Minors] just to build games up. When we get to that point, I’ll have a better idea of when I can get back.”

And just what will Sizemore be getting back to? That’s the $5 million question.

I’ve written before about that 18-game burst of brilliance when Sizemore returned last season from one knee injury and before he suffered another. What a tease that must have been for the Indians, who watched him hit .282 with a .974 OPS from the leadoff spot, flirting with his impact of old.

“Everything he hit,” said teammate Shin-Soo Choo, “was an extra-base hit.”

Well, not quite. But close. Sixteen of his 22 hits in that span went for extra bases. The stretch didn’t earn him back into the graces of All-Star or Silver Slugger status, but it did earn him another pay day, another opportunity with the Indians.

You wonder what will become of that opportunity. You listen to a man who once played 382 consecutive games talk about the agonizing dullness of rehab work, and you can’t help feeling sorry for him.

“We haven’t had very good success with just getting one injury healed and then another part is still a little cranky,” Sizemore said. “So we’re trying to put together a program where everything is healed and in the right place but also strong. Instead of rushing back in six or seven weeks, we tried to get everything else aligned.”

How long does this alignment take? If the Indians know, they’re not saying. All their latest medical update notes is that he “continues to make progress,” but it’s already obvious that he won’t anywhere near a return when he’s eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on June 3, and who knows if we’ll see him at all in the first half?

“It’ll drive anyone crazy,” Sizemore said. “You almost feel like a part of you is missing, like you’re on hold. You do whatever you can to get through that day and get healthy. I know the goal is close, but there’s nothing you can do to make things easier.”

It’s a sad state of affairs for a true talent and a guy these upstart Indians, quite obviously, could really use, given the current condition of their left-field output. When will Sizemore return, and at what level? These questions can’t be answered. All we can do is lean in close, listen and wait.

~AC

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