CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Good afternoon from Bright House Field where the Red Sox are playing under National League rules and another sold-out crowd crammed into a stadium to see the 2013 World Champions play and the Budweiser Clydesdales rounded the warning track in pre-game celebrations.
While the was a buzz Thursday surrounding David Ortiz and the possibility a new contract might materialize Friday, John Farrell did not discuss that on Friday. Instead, Farrell spent a majority of his media session before the contest against the Philadelphia Phillies discussing the emergence of Grady Sizemore.
Could he break camp with the team? “Yes,” Farrell said.
If he does, could he be an everyday player? “We have everything to believe at this point he is a likely candidate to become an everyday player with durability on his side at some point.”
Okay, so what about being the leadoff hitter? “The lineup that we had last night (with Sizemore in the top spot) is one scenario, one version. There are right handed, left handed matchups that are there. The rest requirements that might be needed. It's going to be, we know who are guys are and roughly the spots in the lineup, but I think we showed early in the season that and again late in the season that we would make changes based on either matchups or who's swinging the bat a little bit better at a given time.”
While Farrell continually danced around a definite answers on Sizemore’s status, he did not, and has not, avoided talking about how impressive the former All-Star has been this spring.
When asked if he agreed with scouts who have repeatedly said Sizemore resembles the same player he was in Cleveland, where between 2005 and 2008 he played in 639 of 648 regular season games, Farrell opined: "Totally. It's pretty amazing given the time missed. It just speaks to his athleticism and the low maintenance swing."
Farrell will use this last week as a barometer, though, even if it won't fully determine how Sizemore will respond throughout the season.
"We look at the way he's playing the game," Farrell said when asked how the team evaluates Sizemore. "Everything is reactionary at this point. There's no measured steps. He's playing instinctually, so we don't see him favoring anything in the knees or otherwise. He's got some good times down the line. He's consistently in the 4.3 range. We've gotten him to the 4.2s down the line. That's getting close to his speed when he was fully healthy. His reads in the outfield, the timing at the plate, all those things factored into it."
How the team maintains Sizemore throughout the season -- if and when the Sox announce he's made the club -- will be based in a scheduled manner to protect his body.
"There would be a recommended number of games played per week," Farrell said. "How we adjust that based on matchups that will certainly be factored in, so we're looking to put the best team on the field every night with the intent of trying to win every game, so if rest is built into the scenario, we'll factor in everything at our disposal. There's a progression we're still following to get to everyday play. The most encouraging thing is he hasn't hit the proverbial wall where we're bumped up against the limit and now we have to pull back."
Farrell plans on having playing Sizemore in three consecutive games starting Sunday. How he holds up through the next week will help determine his status on the team.
"There's measured tests that we're building up with at bats, innings played, back to back days," Farrell said when asked how and when the team makes a decision on Sizemore. "There's a detailed plan mapped out that we're following. We need to get through the coming days."
Notes: Craig Breslow tossed 20 pitches in live batting practice with a plan to pitch in his first exhibition game on Monday … The Phillies requested to have both teams use the NL rule having pitchers bat so Jon Lester is getting his first action of the spring at the plate. He stood and watched three strikes from Phillies lefthanded starter Cliff Lee in his first at bat and then bunted to the third-baseman on his next plate appearance … Farrell plans on using his starters in contests against minor leaguers over this next week when the Red Sox face AL East rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles, in four straight contests.