Already one of the spring's top feel-good stories as he claimed the Opening Day centerfield job following two full seasons out of the game, Grady Sizemore made a strong showing in his Boston debut.
After singling off the Orioles' Chris Tillman in his first plate appearance in the second inning, Sizemore came to bat again to lead off the fourth and found a 3-1 cutter that didn't cut quite enough:
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Sizemore's homer tied the game at 1-1, but Nelson Cruz untied it for Baltimore in the bottom of the seventh inning with a solo shot of his own off Jon Lester. That run that proved decisive in Baltimore's 2-1 win, preventing the Hollywood ending.
Still, Monday marked a marked a milestone for Sizemore in his long comeback. It was his first regular season major league game since September 22, 2011, and his first homer since July 15, 2011, both from when he was still with the Indians. That homer came against Tillman, who along with Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz was supposed to be part of the wave of arms that turned the franchise around. Tillman yes, Arrieta (now a Cub) not so much. Since then, a slew of injuries has prevented Sizemore from living up to the standard via which he earned All-Star honors from 2006-2008; he averaged 70 games per year over the next three years before disappearing from the majors completely in 2012-2013. Signed to a deal with a $750,000 base salary, Sizemore played well enough during spring training that the team sent prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. back to Triple-A to start the year, but in one of those things-always-work-themselves-out situations, Shane Victorino went on the disabled list after tweaking his right hamstring in Saturday's exhibition game. Bradley was recalled to fill the roster spot; he came off the bench to pinch run for Mike Napoli in the 8th inning, took over rightfield for Daniel Nava to start the ninth, and struck out looking against a 93 mph fastball from Tommy Hunter to end the game.