Sizemore takes a major step forward

Sizemore takes a major step forward

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The good news for the Indians is that Grady Sizemore is beginning to feel like his old self again.

On Sunday morning, Sizemore ran the bases on a half-diamond located deep within Cleveland's player development complex. With team trainers watching, the center fielder pushed his surgically-repaired left knee nearly to the max, as he sprinted around the basepaths.

"I don't feel slower," Sizemore said after the workout. "I don't feel like I've lost a step."

And that is a major step forward.

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It marked the first time that Sizemore ran the bases since undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee in June. He said he ran at 90-95-percent effort, and plans on upping the intensity during his next two baserunning workouts, which are tentatively scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.

Then, if everything goes according to plan, Sizemore said he might be cleared to play in games as early as Saturday. At the latest, he hopes to be in a game situation by March 21 or March 22. Before he can gain clearance for game action, Sizemore needs to show he can run and move at full capacity.

"That's the big test this next week," Sizemore said, "to not hold back."

Sizemore smiled when asked if he might prefer to begin with a Minor League game setting, compared to a Cactus League environment.

"My preference right now is just to get on the field," he replied.

It remains unlikely that Sizemore will garner enough spring at-bats in order to be ready to patrol center field for the Tribe against the White Sox for Opening Day on April 1. More important is making sure Sizemore is back to 100 percent -- both at the plate and on the field -- before he rejoins the team.

If the 28-year-old Sizemore -- under contract for $7.5 million this season after being limited to just 33 games due to the knee issue last year -- is unable to go on Opening Day, the Indians will likely go with a starting outfield of Austin Kearns in left, Michael Brantley in center and Shin-Soo Choo in right.

Up to this point in camp, Sizemore has progressed through sprint and agility tests, moving in all directions without any issues. He has taken part in batting practice, and worked with the outfielders -- showing no ill effects from the knee problem. On Sunday, Sizemore said running on dirt felt no different than in the grass.

Sizemore said he did three sets of running completely around the bases. He ran from home to first base, then simulated advancing from first to third, before ending with a sprint from third to the plate. He said he will likely add different baserunning elements later this week.

"It went well," Sizemore said. "Everything's been really good these last two or three weeks. I've been symptom-free. I haven't had any pain -- no setbacks. It's stiff. It's not sore. It's just a different feeling.

"I can't really explain what it is. I just notice the spot, but I don't necessarily have discomfort or pain with it. It's just a matter of getting used to that, trusting it, and being able to push through whatever you're feeling."