ANAHEIM -- The Indians' most reluctant star is now their most noticeable. Grady Sizemore appears on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week in an issue that hits newsstands on Wednesday. The cover appearance is a first for Sizemore, a player who generally likes to keep a low profile but who will now have his image plastered on more than three million copies of the national magazine.
"It's cool to be a part of it," Sizemore said. "I knew they were doing a story on me, obviously, but I just found out a couple days ago that I'd be on the cover. It's a good feeling." But located within the Tom Verducci-penned story about Sizemore, entitled "One Sizemore Fits All," is a quote that gets to the heart of the center fielder's shy persona. "I'm not comfortable in front of the camera," he tells Verducci. "I don't like seeing this mug on TV." Well, get used to it, Grady. "You can't get much more exposure than being on the cover of SI," manager Eric Wedge said with a laugh. "If people don't know him, they will now." Sizemore, who posed for the cover while swinging his bat and giving the camera a menacing glare, is the first Indians player to appear solo on the front of the magazine since Albert Belle did so on May 6, 1996. Former second baseman Ronnie Belliard was on the cover of the Oct. 3, 2005, edition, leaping over the White Sox's Paul Konerko on a double-play relay in an issue that featured an article about the Tribe's attempted playoff push. Indians fans could do worse than to wish for Sizemore a better fate than that experienced by Cory Snyder and Joe Carter, who appeared on the April 7, 1987, issue, which touted Cleveland as the best team in the American League. In a famous example of the reputed "SI cover jinx," the Indians went on to post an abysmal 61-101 record that season. While Sizemore, who came into Tuesday batting .255 with five homers and 15 RBIs, seeks to avoid such a jinx, some of his teammates joked that they might seek a profit out of this development. Designated hitter Travis Hafner, who was featured in SI over the winter but did not appear on the cover, said he might get a few copies of the magazine autographed by Sizemore. "I'll see what I can get for them on eBay," Hafner joked. Second baseman Josh Barfield has more serious plans. He and teammate Ryan Garko are sharing an apartment in downtown Cleveland this season, and they are in desperate need of decorations other than Indians promotional giveaways. "We'll have to frame one and put it on the wall," Barfield said. It's difficult to imagine Sizemore, who is clearly not prone to self-promotion, giving the magazine the same treatment in his house. He's more likely to wince at the image and the attention. But hey, it's all part of being one of baseball's biggest up-and-coming superstars. "You can't control everything," Sizemore said with a smile.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.