Sizemore an odd fit for Derby
Leadoff hitter not flashy but will participate in homer contest
NEW YORK -- The State Farm Home Run Derby, ostensibly, is everything Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore is not.You won't find Sizemore flexing his muscles for the cameras or making bold predictions about his ability to propel a batted ball over the Yankee Stadium wall.
That's not the nature of the unassuming Sizemore, who is probably already kicking himself for signing up for the Derby because of the mere fact that he must talk about it beforehand.Asked, for instance, if he has a strategy in mind for his first crack at the Derby, which takes place at 8 p.m. ET Monday -- and can be seen live on MLB.com by MLB.TV and All-Star package subscribers, and on ESPN -- Sizemore gave his standard shrug. "I don't know," he said. "It's a Home Run Derby. There's a lot of strategy there that I don't care about." Yes, but what about the short porch in right field at "The House That Ruth Built"? The 25-year-old Sizemore, who will be participating in his third straight All-Star Game, states the obvious, then offers a not-so-bold prediction. "It's really short down the right-field line, and I'm a left-handed hitter," he said. "Whoever feels good that day will have the best opportunity that day." Certainly, Sizemore must have an inkling of who he thinks might win, no? "I couldn't even tell you all the guys that are in it," he said. Well, for the record, the Derby will feature a field of eight. Sizemore, the Rays' Evan Longoria, the Rangers' Josh Hamilton and the Twins' Justin Morneau will represent the American League, while the Astros' Lance Berkman, the Brewers' Ryan Braun, the Marlins' Dan Uggla and the Phillies' Chase Utley will go to bat for the National League. Though Sizemore might not have a personality that matches his power, he has certainly earned the right to become the first Indians player to take part in the Derby since Jim Thome finished second in 1998. Entering Sunday, Sizemore led the AL in home runs with 23, placing him just five shy of his previous career high, set in 2006. Sizemore had homered 11 times in his last 28 games and 15 times in his last 39, so he's coming into the Derby, literally and figuratively, on an upswing. Sizemore, who will be pitched to by Tribe bench coach Jeff Datz, has long had pop in his swing, but he's taken matters to the extreme this season, providing further evidence that his future might dictate a move from the leadoff spot to the middle of the order. "I think it's one of those things where I feel good at the plate," he said. "I'm not trying to hit home runs. My swing hasn't really changed or anything like that. It's just been one of those years where I'm hitting home runs and I feel good at the plate." He hopes to feel as good Monday night. Other than that, Sizemore, who has never competed in a Derby at any level, has little to no thoughts about competing in the marquee event. "It's just BP, not like you're in a game," Sizemore said. "You're not taking a home run swing, you're taking batting practice. I'm just going to go in there and hit the ball. I'm not going to change anything."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.