SEATTLE -- Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore isn't catching any breaks with his schedule as of late. First, he went through a hectic All-Star experience in New York that included participating in the State Farm Home Run Derby and then playing 10 innings in the American League's 15-inning victory. And after that, he was off on the road for the Tribe's three-game series with Seattle, which sits very close to his former high school in nearby Everett, Wash. But while the trip meant lots of media requests and plenty of family and friends in the stands, it's a type of chaos the young center fielder can deal with.
"It's always exciting. You grow up here, you get to see old friends and you see your coaches," he said, mentioning he had 16 friends and family in the stands for the game. "This is where it all started, so it's always nice to come home." Sizemore was a big-time athlete coming out of the area and was recruited to play football and baseball at the nearby University of Washington before deciding on a professional baseball career. His former two-sport prowess prompted the comment that it could be him playing quarterback at Husky Stadium on Saturday afternoons. Washington currently has Jake Locker at the helm, who like Sizemore was a local athlete who excelled with both baseball and football. "I would've graduated by now," Sizemore pointed out. "Football, it's always going to be a part of me. I love the game, but I'm happy doing what I'm doing." And he's doing that quite well this season, with a .273 average, .374 OBP, 23 homers and 54 RBIs as he puts a power label on the leadoff position. "I still don't feel like I'm anywhere near where I could be personally," he said. So I'm still working to get there." With Sizemore's power and a glove that's committed just one error so far this season in the spacious lawn in center field, the comparison to former Mariners outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. inevitably emerges. Because after all, Sizemore did have a pretty good role model as he grew up around Seattle. "He was exciting to watch. He was the center fielder when I was growing up, he was that guy," Sizemore said. "He was kind of emerging as a star, and it was fun to watch the way he played. It was exciting. So to sit there and play against him now is pretty special." There are naturally many differences between the two, starting with Sizemore's unique position in the batting order for a power hitter, but certain Griffey traits might have rubbed off on his former fan. "I think there's similarities," Sizemore said. "I like the way he plays outfield. He played it hard, and he wasn't afraid to run into walls to go get the ball. And I think a little bit of that might have carried over into my game."
Jesse Baumgarner is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.