Sizemore hits 2-run homer, Red Sox beat Rays

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 25, 2014 at 5:03 pm •  Published: March 25, 2014
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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) — Grady Sizemore bolstered his bid to become Boston's new starting center fielder, hitting a two-run homer as the Red Sox defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2 on Tuesday.

Sizemore signed a one-year, $750,000 contract loaded with incentives during the offseason. Despite injuries that have kept him from playing in the majors since Sept. 22, 2011, Sizemore has had an excellent spring, batting .303 in 33 at-bats and scoring five runs.

"Honestly, I'm just looking at the next day and not looking too far ahead — you can't get too far ahead," the 31-year-old Sizemore said.

"I'm happy with how everything has gone ... and didn't expect to feel this good or comfortable so soon. I'm happy with that aspect," the three-time All-Star with Cleveland said.

"We're all perfectionists, so I want to play better each day like everyone else," he said.

Sizemore is competing for the starter role with top prospect Jackie Bradley, Jr., who has struggled this spring, batting just .173 with five RBIs and 16 strikeouts. Bradley was 0 for 4 Tuesday batting ninth and playing right field.

Red Sox manager John Farrell said he expects to take the rest of the week to have internal discussions and make the call between Bradley and Sizemore. Farrell adds that the team is unlikely to carry both Sizemore and Bradley.

"There's still a lot of discussion on who our starting center fielder will be," Farrell said. "We're looking at these next three days as a physical test. Grady has responded to the plan we put forth, but we still have much to discuss."

Bradley, a 23-year-old rookie, was considered the front-runner entering camp. But Sizemore, who hasn't played in more than 100 games since 2009, has had an excellent camp and put him ahead despite durability questions.

Sizemore's workload has increased in the past week, with the Red Sox having him play in five of their last six games.

"Everything's been positive that I've done so far — body's felt good, just keep building off that and put consecutive days together," Sizemore said. "Still need to swing at good balls because I'm going out of the zone still, but I do feel like I can start the regular season."

Will Middlebrooks also hit a solo homer as the defending World Series champions won for just the ninth time in 24 games this spring.

Wil Myers and Jose Molina both drove in runs for the Rays, who are still a Grapefruit League best 15-6-3.

STARTING TIME

Rays: In his first outing since being chosen the team's fifth starting pitcher, Jake Odorizzi gave up three earned runs on four hits, including a home run, walked two and struck out five over five-plus innings. He threw 92 pitches, 58 for strikes.

Red Sox: Clay Buchholz gave up two runs in six innings, allowing three hits, two walks and striking out five over 84 pitches.

"It was good up until the sixth inning," he said. "I'm comfortable with the pitches because there's more movement on them, especially the two-seamer. You've got to let the ball work for you."

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