Sizemore shows his stuff at Futures Game
Tigers representative goes 1-for-2 and scores a run
ST. LOUIS -- One Tigers infielder from Virginia Commonwealth University is in the All-Star Game and the Home Run Derby. Another just played in the XM All-Star Futures Game. What are the odds?
"Pretty slim, I've got to say," Scott Sizemore said Sunday morning from Busch Stadium.
The odds of Sizemore and Brandon Inge being in Detroit at the same time wouldn't seem to be much better. But they're looking pretty good in the not-too-distant future.
Considering Sizemore was at home a year ago at this time, recovering from surgery on a fractured left wrist, the 24-year-old second baseman has a pretty good appreciation for getting to show his talents on this big of a stage. But to him, the bigger sign of his progress was his promotion to Triple-A Toledo a month ago. It's two steps higher than where he was in his abbreviated 2008 season at high Class A Lakeland, and it's one step shy of Detroit.
That's the future Sizemore wants to look at.
"The Futures Game is great and everything. It's good to get recognized," he said. "But to move up through the organization, that's really what your main goal is as a player. This is just the cherry on top."
It's is pretty good topping, though. A reserve on the U.S. roster, Sizemore entered as a pinch-hitter and singled to extend the fifth inning for Daryl Jones' ensuing single and Jason Castro's eventual go-ahead homer. He came back up in the sixth and struck out before the World Team scored four in the seventh to take the rain-shortened game, 7-5.
His single ended up the kind of at-bat that has characterized his game. He has a little bit of punch and a good amount of fight.
Sizemore earned his promotion to the Mud Hens by batting .307 at Double-A Erie with 17 doubles, four triples, nine home runs and 33 RBIs in 59 games. Add in 35 walks, and his .307 batting average turned into a .402 on-base percentage and .937 OPS.
Since arriving at Toledo, Sizemore has a .281 average and .805 OPS with six doubles, two homers and eight RBIs in 89 at-bats. He's again making the quick adjustment that allowed him to start the season so well at Erie despite coming off surgery and a promotion.
"The pitching is a little better [at Triple-A]," Sizemore said. "You have to really fine-tune your approach. You have to take what the pitcher gives you. You can't always be looking for a pitch to really drive. Sometimes you've just got to scrap, try to get a knock whenever you can."
That was his approach Sunday, waiting for Blue Jays left-hander Luis Perez to leave a changeup for him to pull into left field.
He has made impressions since his arrival, including on U.S. Futures Game manager and former Tigers infielder Torey Lovullo. He saw a good dose of Sizemore earlier this month during a five-game home-and-home set between Toledo and Columbus, going 4-for-12 over three games.
Sizemore doesn't cite any major adjustments, more like a tweak with help in Spring Training from Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon. By keeping his hands close to his body instead of too far out, he said, he's able to do more with pitches.
Both the numbers and the approach sound a little like the Tigers' current second baseman, Placido Polanco, though Sizemore is a little more prone to strikeouts. With Polanco in the final season of his four-year contract and no negotiations expected until season's end, it isn't hard to envision Sizemore starting at second in Detroit next season. Before that, he appears to be a strong candidate for a September callup as an extra infielder when rosters expand.
His next step is a strong second half, of which his health is no small role. His left wrist has flared up at times since arriving at Toledo, but he said it's nothing that ice and Tylenol don't settle down. He wrapped it well before stepping to the plate Sunday.
Considering how much time he missed last summer, though, it could be a lot worse.
"I came back from injury and performed pretty well, so I'm just happy with the way things are going," he said. "Really, I can't ask for much more."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.