- Gordon Edes, ESPN Staff Writer
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- So tell us, Grady Sizemore, is there any physical reason you should not be the center fielder when the Red Sox open the regular season on March 31 in Baltimore?
“I’m not looking at it that way,’’ Sizemore said after collecting three more hits in a Triple-A game here Wednesday. “I think it’s just trying to get back into shape, get conditioned, get the body feeling right and get the timing right. It’s one of those things where I still have to earn a spot. I still have to prove I can play every day and still have to prove I’m the guy.”
So tell us, John Farrell, is there any physical reason why Sizemore should not be your Opening Day center fielder?
“We’ll probably have a better read on that in another 10 days,” Farrell said. “Next week we’re hopeful to have him play five times. There’s been a pretty-well-thought-out plan to increase the volume [of activity] and we’re going to take every available day to gather that information.”
Sizemore is scheduled to go all nine innings against the Yankees here Thursday night, Farrell said, then take Friday off. The plan for now, Farrell said (adding the caveat, “Don’t hold me to it”), is for Sizemore then to play Saturday, Sunday and Monday, although it remains to be seen whether he plays in a minor-league game here Saturday or takes the nearly three-hour bus ride to Lake Buena Vista to face the Braves.
The Sox play their last seven games of the exhibition schedule beginning Sunday; Farrell said Sizemore will play in five of them. Given that coincides with the time Farrell said he expects to play his regulars, that would suggest the job has now become Sizemore’s to lose, but Farrell insists no decisions have been made.
Rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. remains in the running, Farrell said.
“We still have a competition in center field,” Farrell said, responding to a question on when Shane Victorino might see some action there. “We have to be cognizant of that, and that means the majority of the reps are going to come between Jackie and Grady. ... Again, be sensitive to a sincere competition going on in center.”
In the spirit of that sensitivity, Farrell hastened to clarify what he meant when he said “the needle points north” for Sizemore. He was not reserving Sizemore a seat on the team's flight to Baltimore; he merely meant that everything was pointing up for Sizemore.