John Farrell has been watching Grady Sizemore play since 2002, Farrell's first season as the Cleveland Indians’ director of player development. It was in that year that Sizemore crashed into a brick wall making a catch in a minor league game and kept playing for two weeks before doctors determined he had a broken arm.
“A special guy," Farrell said Thursday. "He was as good as anybody for a few years with the Indians."
Now, a dozen years later, Sizemore is 31 and joining the Red Sox after a two-year absence from baseball due to multiple injuries. The Sox believe Sizemore can compete with rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. to start in center field.
If not, he could serve as a valuable backup. The Red Sox will determine that once they see Sizemore play in spring training.
“What we need to learn from spring training, what he needs to learn, is just sort of how he feels as he gets back into baseball, everyday baseball activity, back into games,” said Sox general manager Ben Cherington.
“That’s going to tell us a lot about what makes sense, what makes sense for him, what makes sense for us. But we’re not going to put any limitation on it, certainly. And we certainly see a lot of potential there.”
Because Sizemore was signed to a base salary of $750,000 on Wednesday, the Red Sox took on little risk. Given his service time, Sizemore would have to approve a minor league assignment. But that could be an option.
Jonny Gomes has worked out in the same Arizona facility as Sizemore this winter. He was under the impression that Sizemore was preparing to return as a bench player before the Red Sox offered an opportunity to compete for a starting spot.
“He’s ready to play again,” Gomes said. “It’s interesting.”
A few other notes:
• The beards that helped define the colorful personality of the 2013 team will be a thing of the past, according to Gomes. “We need something new,” said Gomes, who has yet to shave. “We’ll come up with it soon enough."
• Farrell said the Red Sox would have Brandon Workman and Drake Britton work as starters for at least a few weeks of spring training. Both finished last season in the major league bullpen. In all, 15 pitchers will come to camp as starters.
• Farrell said all of the pitchers on the spring training roster should arrive in camp ready to pitch off the mound. “No health issues as of today,” he said.
• Jon Lester, a native of Tacoma, Wash., is rooting for the Seahawks in the Super Bowl but admitted only a casual interest now that he lives in Georgia. “It’s cool because I grew up there,” he said. “But I don’t want to get on the bandwagon.”
• Dustin Pedroia (left thumb) and Shane Victorino (right thumb) are recovered from their surgeries. Farrell suggested they would be eased into spring training slowly but would be on the field for the first full-squad workout Feb. 20.
• The 75th annual awards dinner hosted by the Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America is tonight at the Westin Copley Place.
New Hall of Famer Tom Glavine, a Billerica native, is on land to receive the Fuchs Award for long and meritorious service to baseball.
Cherington (Executive of the Year) and Farrell (Manager of the Year) will receive awards, along with Gomes (Jackie Jensen Award for spirit) and Craig Breslow (Tim Wakefield Award for community service).
Mets ace Matt Harvey, a native of New London, Conn., will receive the Ben Mondor Award as New England Player of the Year.
Former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino won a lifetime achievement award from the Sports Museum.