NEW YORK -- At minimum, Grady Sizemore will miss another six to eight weeks of the 2010 season because of the knee injury he suffered two weeks ago. In reality, Sizemore's season could be over. That all depends on how extensive the injury turns out to be when Dr. Richard Steadman performs a left knee arthroscopy on Sizemore in Vail, Colo., later this week. The actual date of Sizemore's surgery has not yet been determined, nor has the official prognosis for his anticipated return. Head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff did not provide specifics on the other potential procedures that might arise during the knee scope, but he did not dispute that microfracture surgery is a possibility. If that procedure is performed, it would significantly lengthen Sizemore's stay on the DL, likely through and beyond season's end.
"I'll have a more thorough update after I can speak a little more intelligently about this," Soloff said. During the scope, Steadman will determine if the cartilage in Sizemore's knee has been damaged enough to need further surgical intervention. A microfracture procedure involves poking tiny holes in the bone so that new cartilage forms as a result of the blood clotting. Steadman was far from the only doctor consulted to get Sizemore to this point. The Indians also had Sizemore visit a specialist in New York on Friday, and scans of his knee were sent overseas. "It wasn't a cheap FedEx," Soloff said, without getting into specifics. The number of doctors consulted indicates that this is no ordinary knee scope. And so continues an injury plagued stretch that has hampered what was one of the more promising careers in the Majors. It also hampers this Indians club. Sizemore, who was batting .211 with no homers and 13 RBIs when he went on the disabled list, did not provided the spark at the No. 2 spot that the Indians expected coming into the year, but that doesn't lessen his importance to this club, manager Manny Acta said. "It's a big blow [losing Sizemore]," Acta said. "It's something I wasn't anticipating coming out of Spring Training. He's still an important part of this ballclub, even when he's struggling offensively. He brings so much to the table. His speed never goes into a slump, he's a great defender and the presence he brings to our ballclub is not easy to replace." Sizemore first suffered the knee injury near the end of Spring Training, but played through the pain. He aggravated the injury May 16 in Baltimore, when diving back to first base. He came out of the game and, three days later, was placed on the DL. Trevor Crowe has assumed Sizemore's starting spot in center field and batted .259 (15-for-58) in 14 games. He's also taken over the leadoff duties from shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who fractured his forearm on May 17 in Tampa Bay and will be out until late July or early August. Shin-Soo Choo moved up to Sizemore's No. 2 spot in the batting order. At some point, the Indians will promote prospect Michael Brantley from Triple-A Columbus to see time in the outfield, including center. Brantley opened the season as the Tribe's starting left fielder but was demoted two weeks later. He is batting .301 (37-for-123) for the Clippers. "It's not a secret we are going to take a look at Michael again up here," Acta said. "That's part of the plan. We feel both of those guys [Brantley and Crowe] can be part of the process here." Losing Sizemore, however, was not an anticipated part of the rebuilding process. This is another inglorious turn of events for Sizemore, who missed about two months of action in 2009 because of left elbow and left abdominal injuries, both of which required surgery in September. Sizemore played through pain for 106 games, batting just .248 with a .788 OPS, 18 homers, 13 stolen bases and 64 RBIs. This came after an '08 season in which Sizemore became just the second player in club history and the 10th player in American League history to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases in a single season. Because he had ample time to recover from the September procedures in time for Spring Training, the Indians were expecting Sizemore to return to something more closely resembling his 2008 form for this season. It was not to be. That the knee has been bothering Sizemore as long as it has sheds some light on his perplexing lack of productivity this season. The Indians retain contractual control of Sizemore through 2012. He's making $5.6 million this season and will make another $7.5 million in 2011. The Indians hold an $8.5 million option on Sizemore for '12 that becomes a player option if he is traded. Sizemore's contract was once viewed as one of the most club-friendly deals in baseball, as it was signed when he had fewer than two years of Major League service time under his belt. Sizemore also used to be the club's iron man, playing in 382 straight games from Aug. 26, 2005 to April 26, 2008. Now, questions will linger as to whether Sizemore can return to full health and full productivity. Sunday's news was a tough blow for a rebuilding Indians team that hoped to build around Sizemore in center field. And more bad news is possible, once doctors get a closer inspection of the knee.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.