BOSTON -- They plastered his image on the cover of Sports Illustrated earlier this year, and they've sung his praises on "Baseball Tonight." But Grady Sizemore's real coming-out party is right here, on the American League Championship Series stage. Because here and only here can the nation get a good, hard look at the game-changing hustle Sizemore brings to the field. Red Sox pitchers have already had a good, hard look at Sizemore -- both live and on video. And Games 1 and 2 starters Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling, during their pre-series interview sessions with reporters, harped on the importance of retiring Sizemore.
"I think Grady is one of those guys, much like Vladdy [Guerrero] was when he was in Montreal," Schilling said. "I think he's somehow flown under the radar, because I look at him as very much an impact player. He's probably Johnny Damon with more power." Those were certainly big words of praise from Schilling, and they obviously have merit. Sizemore sparked the top of the Tribe's lineup in the AL Division Series against the Yankees, batting .375 (6-for-16) with a triple, a homer, four walks and a .524 on-base percentage. It was the kind of showing that could very well make Sizemore a household name, if he isn't already. "I don't really have a good pulse on how he's viewed nationally," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "I know what he means to our ballclub and what a great player he is. What matters to me is the consistency he brings to the ballpark every day and how he handles things." The 25-year-old Sizemore handled his first exposure to the postseason about as well as anybody could reasonably expect. And if the Indians are going to continue their playoff run to the World Series, they'll need their leadoff man to continue to do so. "Being at the top of the lineup, that's kind of where I want to be," Sizemore said. "I want to be the table-setter and try to get on and create for the rest of the guys behind me." For now, he's creating a buzz among the Boston pitchers. When asked about handling the Tribe's lineup, Beckett first pointed to Sizemore. "You've got to start at the top with Grady," Beckett said. "He's the one that gets everything going." Award season: Their focus, at this point, is the collective effort of the team. But the Indians can expect plenty of individual recognition in the weeks to come. Some of it has already started to pour in. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum has announced its list of Legacy Award winners, and the Tribe is well represented. Indians ace C.C. Sabathia won the Bullet Rogan Legacy Award as the top pitcher in the AL, closer Joe Borowski won the Hilton Smith Award for leading the AL in saves, Wedge won the C.I. Taylor Award as the league's best manager and general manager Mark Shapiro won the Rube Foster Award as the AL's top executive. The Baseball Writers' Association of America will hand out its hardware for the Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, Most Valuable Player and Manager of the Year Awards between Nov. 12 and 20. The two awards of particular interest to the Indians are the AL Cy Young, which will be announced on Nov. 13, and the AL Manager of the Year, which will be announced on Nov. 14. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona are prime candidates for the former, while Wedge is a candidate for the latter. Fausto flattery: Schilling didn't limit his praise of the Indians to Sizemore. He had equally kind things to say about Carmona, his Game 2 opponent. It will be an intriguing pitching matchup on Saturday night -- the veteran Schilling making his 17th postseason start, and Carmona making just his second. Schilling went so far as to say that he feels he's the "underdog" in this battle.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.