FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Greetings from the Fort, where the Great Grady Sizemore Experiment continues.
Manager John Farrell said that Sizemore -- who is hitting .308 in 13 at-bats after missing the past two seasons -- will not only start tonight against the Phillies at JetBlue Park, but will play seven or eight innings, possibly the entire game.
Where does that leave Jackie Bradley Jr. in the battle for the starting center field spot?
"We came into camp with Jackie as the guy," Farrell said. "We projected him as the starting center fielder, and I don't think anything has radically changed that thought. But we can't deny the fact that Grady Sizemore has looked very well in camp, and we're still in the process of trying to get our arms around his durability."
Farrell said he isn't ruling out the idea of carrying both Bradley Jr. and Sizemore on the roster.
"The one thing we've benefited from is a deep and talented roster," he said. "Early in the season, you want as many of those players as you can. And if that causes decisions one way or the other to keep as many good players as you have, that's something we'll arrive at as we break camp here."
Patience is the key. No decisions have to be made right now.
"We wanted to take a look at spring training itself, and let's see how things unfolded, because before games were played or we even got on the field, we didn't know how he was going to respond to day-to-day volume," Farrell said. "And it's been favorable. His timing at the plate has looked very good. He might say otherwise just based on his own comfort level. But just looking at him, it doesn't look like he's missed two years."
Flyin' Hawaiian is back: Shane Victorino, who had discomfort in his right thumb and took batting practice Friday in Fort Myers while the team was in Dunedin, will start tonight in right field. Farrell said Victorino will get three at-bats and play five innings.
No worries: Will Middlebrooks is off for the second straight game, but Farrell he's just resting a right middle finger that was hyperextended when he stole second against the Twins on Thursday. He is expected to be back in the lineup Sunday against the Rays, or Monday at the latest.
Rotation: Jon Lester, who starts tonight, is scheduled to go again when the Yankees come to town Thursday.
Farrell on the battle for the utility spot: "There's a competition going on. Both (Jonathan) Herrera and (Brock) Holt ... those two guys have the versatility you need at the position. The ability to play shortstop is the preference on the defensive side of things. And that's why as we've gotten those guys on the field, we've tried to get a number of innings played on the left side of the infield. We think they're both capable at second base. So that's the evaluation going forward. Both have shown well so far."
Here are today's lineups:
SP -- Jon Lester, LHP
SP - Cliff Lee