What has been suspected has now been confirmed: Grady Sizemore will be the Red Sox's starting center fielder on opening day. Manager John Farrell made the announcement on Friday morning, and in a related move the Sox also optioned Jackie Bradley to Triple-A Pawtucket (source: Alex Speier, WEEI).
Sizemore's once-promising career has been beset by injuries, and there's no getting around the fact that Sizemore, now 31, will always be a major health risk. With that said, he was outstanding from 2005-08 -- .281/.372/.496 (128 OPS+) with 27 homers, 41 doubles and 29 steals per 162 games played. This spring, Sizemore not only stayed healthy but also put up an OPS of .842 and logged more walks than strikeouts.
On the downside, Sizemore hasn't been both healthy and effective since 2008. From the Sox's standpoint, though, everything about this is a low-risk, high-reward proposition. After all, Sizemore's incentive-laden one-year contract will be worth at most $6 million, and the Red Sox, suffice it to say, would love for him to hit all those incentive benchmarks. Should Sizemore yet again succumb to injury, then the Sox have plenty of outfield depth on which to fall back.