March 11th, 2010
Some days, the timing just works out well for a story. Before Thursday’s game against the Phillies, manager Jim Leyland said that Scott Sizemore’s situation “is really an issue right now,” Sizemore got a peppering of ground balls behind Justin Verlander in the game. He got to some of them, including a Placido Polanco-esque sliding stop and throw behind first base to rob Brian Schneider (thanks to Getty Images for the photo at right), and he couldn’t get to others. The bigger point is that he didn’t really look hobbled, and he came out of it fine.
“Everything went real well today,” Sizemore said afterwards. “Tons of balls hit in my direction, had to try to get to all of them. Yeah, it felt pretty good. I had to go both ways. There were a couple hit in the middle, a couple hit in the hole. It felt good. My angles [of approach] weren’t quite right for my range, but I’m not far off, maybe just a step off.”
It was a good day for Sizemore’s ankle, but they won’t all be like that. He’ll have days when it probably isn’t feeling good. He accepts that. It seems to be something that worries Leyland a bit, though.
“I have to watch that thing,” Leyland said of Sizemore’s ankle.
In that process, he’s watching how much Sizemore plays each day. The problem with that is that he’s trying to make sure Sizemore gets at-bats.
“If I’m only going to play him five or six innings, I probably should move him up in the lineup so he gets an extra at-bat, which I will do at some point,” Leyland said. “But I’m also trying to get an idea what our lineup’s going to look like. I’m very careful saying it, because I don’t want to put any pressure on him. It’s a little bit of a tough situation. I have to keep him healthy, but I’ve got to get him ready, too.”
He’s living up to his prediction that he’d be watching Sizemore like a hawk.
Sizemore is trying to make the best of the ups and downs.
“I’m hoping the longer it goes, the better it feels the whole time,” Sizemore said. “But I think with any injury like that, you’re going to have good days and bad days. Some days, it’ll be sore, and some days it’ll feel phenomenal. I’m prepared for both, and I know those days when it hurts, it’s just going to have to be gut-check time, really bear down and focus and get the job done.”
- Joel Zumaya gave up a leadoff home run to Raul Ibanez in his lone inning of work, but the wind helped the ball clear the left-field fence. It was one of the few balls that really had help from the wind, because both Verlander and Joe Blanton seemed to be getting a lot of ground balls. Zumaya said he threw about three breaking balls in his outing, and that he’ll probably focus on that pitch rather than his changeup this spring. “The changeup’s going to be banned,” Zumaya said.
- Thursday was the second straight game Verlander noticed hitters trying to jump his first pitch of an at-bat, because he was so good at first-pitch strikes last year. Don’t be surprised if there’s an adjustment coming.
- How cool is Johnny Damon? When he noticed the postgame spread came from Burger King, he told the story of how he dressed up as The King (from the commercials) for Halloween a few years ago.
- Ryan Raburn followed Sizemore at second base today.
- Lost in the hitting stats is the fact that Jeff Larish, the forgotten man, is 5-for-12 with no strikeouts so far this spring. Leyland said Wednesday he talked with Larish to let him know that they hadn’t forgotten him and to play his game.
Just announced today on a rainy day in Clearwater: Brandon Inge will get his first start in Saturday’s split-squad game against the Yankees and play three innings. That’s more than a week ahead of the original timetable, but it’s something Inge had clearly been pushing for.
Inge said a couple days ago that he felt like he could play by the end of the week, and that he’d be in the lineup already if this was the regular season. Leyland said a day or two ago that Inge would be back at some point in the next 10 days.