Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen talks Grady Sizemore decision

Rob Bradford
March 28, 2014 - 3:33 am

With the Grady Sizemore decision dominating conversation as the Red Sox finish off their spring training, one person who has a unique perspective on the outfielder is assistant general manager Mike Hazen. Hazen is not only in the middle of the decision-making making process when it comes to formulating this year'€™s Red Sox roster, but he also watched Sizemore regularly while working in the Indians organization. Appearing on the Red Sox radio broadcast with Alex Speier and Joe Castiglione Thursday night, Hazen had plenty to say about Sizemore and fellow Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. On first being introduced to Sizemore: "He was an exciting prospect, but I don't think we knew exactly what we were going to get when we got him. He was a little skinnier. He was a little more wiry even than he was now. Didn't show the power that he has come to possess. On-base guy. Good hitter. More of a line-drive stroke. He really moved into his power in his Double-A, Triple-A seasons, and that was when we really started to see the full measure of the kind of player he was going to be offensively and defensively. He was one of the best players in the game for those first few years he was in the big leagues. He does play the game extremely hard. The injuries certainly took a toll. This was a really good player. If we get him back to even some percentage of what he was, we're going to have a pretty good player on our hands." On the smoothness of Sizemore's swing: "Those are going to be some of the swings that you're going to want to see when he starts getting locked in. He has the pull power and he's more of a pull/line drive approach right now with that swing, but when he was a really good player, he was able to do that -- go to left field, go to left-center, as well as yank the ball to right. I don't think you're going to see a lot of home runs to left field. You're going to see balls get driven through the left-center field gap. You're going to see most of his home runs going from right-center to the right-field line. But when he's locked in and you see some swings like that, that's going to be encouraging." On Sizemore's ability to pick up his swing after his long layoff: "It has been something that has been very surprising. To not even have a live AB -- minor league or major league -- in the last couple of years, to be able to step right in, from the timing standpoint, he's seen velocity. he's handled some velocity. Certainly there's been some breaking stuff and velocity that's gotten him, but you would expect that." On Sizemore's pitch recognition: "Those are probably still some things he's going to have to work through. They're not pitching to an advance report yet. If the breaking ball down and in is something he'll be susceptible to, they haven't started pounding and picking at it yet, which they will. Now, you're still getting guys throwing fastballs who are trying to work on their stuff. You may not get the exact attack plan that he'll get during the season. He'll have to readjust back to that. But what we've seen so far, he's hit breaking balls, he's hit fastballs and the timing's been there and that's probably been the biggest thing." On the team's expectations for Sizemore: "I don't think we had that level of expectations. What we thought was, we're trying to build depth, we're trying to add depth at a reasonable cost. We know there's going to be some uncertainty given his track from an injury standpoint, but we felt like when he left the game, from an injury standpoint, the talent was so extreme, the bar was so high that we know there's probably going to be a tick back from that. He's a little bit older. He hasn't played." On what else Sizemore needs to prove: "I don't think from a talent or a performance standpoint. It's more just the physical questions that we need to answer. And who knows when we're going to have those 100 percent answers? What we've seen so far has been extremely encouraging." On the importance of physical therapist Dan Dyrek: "That's certainly something that's been discussed. I don't think it can trump everything. We're delivering consistent care throughout the major leagues and minor leagues. No matter where anybody would go, where they'd be, they would get that same quality. But certainly on the medical standpoint, when guys develop a rapport with the people that are treating them day in and day out, it can be the same way with a coach. They know their bodies better. They have the daily conversations with them. There can be some advantages to that. I don't think it would trump what we were seeing from a baseball standpoint. In the end, it's not about one guy. It's about all 25 guys who are going to be out there on Opening Day." On why Sizemore might be down in the order: "He'll sacrifice some at-bats early in the season because of that, but maybe that would be good for him a little bit. Daniel [Nava] gets on base so much or whoever John [Farrell] chooses to lead off, Daniel would probably be a good candidate for it, to put as many guys on base as possible for [Dustin] Pedroia and [David] Ortiz and [Mike Napoli]. It will probably give Grady a way to ease in a little bit. He's going to have a lot thrown at him when he's up there, just with regard to getting back into the flow." On how good Sizemore was with the Indians: "Somebody has said he was somewhat of an equivalent to [Mike] Trout. I don't know that he was Trout. There may be only one of Trout in the next 20-30 years, or in the past, or present. But it was that type of dominance in the game for one player: defense, base running, offense, he did everything. He hit for power, he hit for average, he got on base. He played very good defensive center field. And he could really run. He was a physical speed with regards to his speed, his explosiveness and all those other things. He played in the middle of the diamond and he hit in the middle of the order." On Sizemore's speed: "Pretty good. He's probably down a tick from where he was -- understandably, given what he's gone through physically. We've gotten him 4.2 down the line. ... For a left-handed hitter, around there, maybe 4.3. So he's probably right around average, maybe still a tick above depending how he gets out of the box. He gets out of the box decent.  But underway, he's been very good as well. You've seen some of the explosive plays." On if Bradley is pressing: "You don't know. It would probably seem that way. Jackie's never struggled that much in his career. So, when you get into these situations sometimes when jobs are up for grabs, you never know how a guy is going to react to it. But he's worked hard, he's played a ton, he's shown a lot of really good signs, he's done a lot of good things defensively. He just hasn't gotten as many hits as he probably would hope for in spring training. But he'll be fine. He's a really, really good player no matter what happens." On Bradley's need for development: "There's room for development, certainly. When you hit under .200 at the major league level, there's room for development. That's not the player that he is. It's not the player that he's going to be. He needs more at-bats. He needs to get his timing down a little bit better. He's pulled off the outer half a decent amount this spring, more than we saw last year, I think. But he's hit everywhere he's gone. And he'll continue to do that. But yes -- some of those adjustments will continue to come. When you're going through those funks, he'll figure that out. But there's going to be more at-bats that are needed. Where those end up being, we don't know that right now."