A bit of good news and bad news this morning. Since I’m sure you’ve already heard the bad news about Grady Sizemore, let’s start with the good news:
Justin Masterson will be the opening day starter.
I’m not really surprised by this, and the move is well deserved. The Indians like to reward pitchers for their prior year’s success, and nobody was more successful than Justin Masterson. He went 12-10 with a 3.21 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 158 strikeouts. He had the highest WAR of any player on the team at 4.1. If he continues at the same pace this season, and Ubaldo Jimenez has a comeback year, the Indians will have two legit aces. According to Paul Hoynes, Jimenez will be the number two starter. Josh Tomlin and Derek Lowe will be the next two. I’m not sure if it’s in that order, but it may be good to break up some of the ground ball pitchers with Tomlin.
Now for the bad news – Sizemore had a “minimally invasive” micro discectomy on his back yesterday morning. He’s expected to miss 8 to 12 weeks while it heals; Chris Antonetti said that it is an “extensive rehab process.” As someone who has dealt with back issues for a number of years, including disc injuries, I can say that they are particularly miserable. In my personal experience, there was a lot of pain, and numbness in my legs – the injury reportedly caused Sizemore some calf problems. It was also a very long, very slow recovery in my case (although I was not a well-conditioned professional athlete).
While the Indians said that they are keeping an eye on the trade market, the replacement for Sizemore is expected to come from within. Manny Acta already said that the only way Michael Brantley doesn’t get the center field job, is if Ezequiel Carrera wins a spot on the team. In that case, Brantley would move to left. When thinking about all of the people in camp that could be in contention for the left field job, Nick Camino from WTAM mentioned that the first names Acta said were Felix Pie, Aaron Cunningham, Fred Lewis, and Ryan Spilborghs. While anyone could make the team, it seems very likely that it ends up being one of those four players. There’s also talk of Matt LaPorta playing some outfield in Spring Training.
I’m feeling particularly pessimistic this week, but I’m not really anticipating that Sizemore will be able to provide a significant contribution this season. He may make it back and play with the club the summer, but I just worry that procedures on the disc in his back and both knees may be too much for him to really make a difference with the team.
A few other quick items:
– The Indians will play their first official Spring Training game tomorrow!
– In yesterday’s intrasquad game, first baseman Russ Canzler had a big day. He had 5 RBI, including a grand slam high off the center field batter’s eye.
– If you’re interested in a little baseball history, I wrote this piece on the SweetSpot yesterday. There’s a little bit of Cleveland history in it.