BY JUSTIN LADA
The Cleveland Indians made their first big decision of what is becoming a very important off-season for them. After an enthralling 4 ½ months of the 2011 season and falling short in August to the Tigers, the Indians reportedly will decline a $9 million option on arguably the face of the franchise over the last seven seasons, OF Grady Sizemore.
Sizemore, who turned 29 this season, averaged 26 home runs, 40 doubles and 81 RBIs between 2005-2008. Sizemore was also a gold glove selection in 2007 and 2008 along with being named an AL All Star three years in a row, between 2006-2008.
However, beginning in 2009 after playing in 157 or more games in the last four season, including back to back 162 game season, Sizemore broke down and played in just 106 games. He hit .248 with 16 home runs and had his first knee surgery.
Since 2009, Sizemore has played in 104 games, thanks to health issues, mainly knee injuries. Last off-season Sizemore had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and missed the first two weeks of the 2011 season. Upon returning to the Indians lineup on April 17th, he hit .282 with five home runs and 11 RBIs. Sizemore sustained a deep bone bruise on his right knee in mid-May and was placed on the disabled list retro-active to May 11th. He returned on May 27th but did not produce the same results. Sizemore struggled offensively and ended up back under the knife after going down on July 17th.
After a late season surgery on his hernia while spending time on the DL with a right knee contusion, Sizemore tried to come back and ended the season hitting .246 and 10 home runs. For the first time in his career, Sizemore did not have a stolen base. He only had 17 over the last three seasons after averaging 28 per season over the previous four.
The center fielder plays the game the right way, full throttle all the time, was the key component in the 2002 trade that saw the Indians deal young ace, Bartolo Colon to the Montreal Expos. The Indians also received Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips, and Lee Stevens. Both Lee and Phillips went on to be All-Stars, Phillips made his mid-summer classic appearance in Cincinnati.
According to Timothy W. Shirer, Sports Editor of The Lake County Sentinel, sources inside the Indians organization hope that the Indians will be able to turn around and sign their former centerfielder to a one year deal with a base salary and incentives in the contract if he reaches a certain number of games played, including a few other statistical milestones.
POSTED 10/29/2011 03:11