CLEVELAND -- It was a day that many people felt would never arrive. Grady Sizemore was back in the lineup and ready to roam the outfield in Cleveland. If optimistic followers of Sizemore's career did imagine such a scenario, this was probably not how it played out in their mind.
Sizemore -- now wearing a Red Sox uniform -- was batting seventh and playing right field in Monday's game against the Indians. Even Sizemore, whose stardom in Cleveland faded due to a pile of injuries and surgeries, admitted that everything felt off.
"It's a little weird, but exciting," said Sizemore, addressing a large pack of reporters in Progressive Field's visitors' dugout. "I'm happy to be back. There's a lot of good memories here."
Sizemore is not simply happy to be back in Cleveland.
"I'm just happy to be playing," he said.
Through 43 games this season, the 31-year-old Sizemore has hit .232 with 13 extra-base hits, 14 runs scored, 14 RBIs and five stolen bases for Boston. The statistics are not overwhelming -- and a far cry from his prime years with the Indians -- but the fact that Sizemore has any numbers at all is an impressive feat.
Throughout the 2009-12 seasons with Cleveland, Sizemore endured a variety of health woes, including multiple knee injuries and many setbacks. He had a left elbow surgery, back surgery and a pair of surgeries for sports hernias. He has undergone microfracture surgery on both knees.
After Sizemore missed both the 2012-13 seasons, the Red Sox have helped revive his career. The veteran outfielder said he does not blame Cleveland's medical staff for his past problems, but is thankful for the work done by the training staff for his new club.
"They went above and beyond for me," Sizemore said of the Indians' medical personnel. "If anything, they were as frustrated as I was, just trying to find a reason behind it and trying to find a solution. They were very helpful. They gave me every opportunity and they went to every length to try to help me get through that, even when I wasn't with them, they were still helping me."
During his nine seasons with the Indians, Sizemore made three All-Star teams, won a pair of Gold Gloves and one Silver Slugger Award. As a 23-year-old in 2006, he hit .290 with 28 home runs, 53 doubles, 11 triples, 76 RBIs, 22 stolen bases, 134 runs and a .907 OPS in 162 games. He averaged 160 games in the 2005-08 seasons before playing just 210 games between the '09-12 tours.
"He was such a force when he first came into the league," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "It's hard not to respect how he played and it looked like he just really enjoyed being a great, young player. And then, it's pretty well-documented, the knee things and everything. It's quite an accomplishment, the fact that he's even playing again.
"Now, don't get me wrong. I hope these next three days, I hope you don't see him on base. I don't want him to get hurt or anything like that, but I don't want to see him on base. And then, wherever they go next city, he can go ahead and the feel-good story can continue."
Sizemore is thrilled that his comeback has included this stop in Cleveland.
"It still feels like home," he said. "I started here. It's kind of still a piece of me. It feels weird being back and being on the other side."