The Phillies took interest in Grady Sizemore's comeback last winter, but not to the level the Red Sox did. Boston offered Sizemore, 31, a guaranteed major-league contract. They released him June 18 after 205 mediocre plate appearances, and that was significant because no outfield corps is worse than Boston's.
The defending champions deemed Sizemore expendable. The Phillies, on Tuesday, decided Sizemore was worth the zero risk of a minor-league deal. The talented but often-injured Sizemore will report Thursday to triple-A Lehigh Valley for an audition. He will spend a majority of time in center.
"Well, I'd like to have more production in the outfield," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "It's pretty simple. If after watching him play in Lehigh Valley, we think he's going to help us, then we'll bring him."
Sizemore's contract contains an out clause for sometime in July. He can earn a prorated $1.25 million if summoned to the majors, according to an ESPN.com report.
The organization has such little outfield depth; Sizemore does provide that, at least. He was healthy, by all accounts, during his brief time with Boston.
But Sizemore did not produce after an impressive spring in which he sprayed line drives around Grapefruit League ballparks. His .612 OPS, while 16 points better than Domonic Brown's and three points below Ben Revere's, was middling.
Brown did not start Tuesday. Ryne Sandberg thought it best to offer his leftfielder peace of mind. The Phillies manager would not say if Brown would return to the lineup Wednesday.
"Maybe with a little mental break to start over," Sandberg said, "maybe something will click and he'll get to where he was with a level path and almost swinging downward at the ball."
The Phillies have more invested in Brown's future than Sizemore's. But Sizemore could gain playing time should the Phillies trade one of their outfielders. Marlon Byrd could draw interest in July, as could John Mayberry Jr.
During a four-year period with Cleveland, Sizemore was one of the game's better outfielders. He posted an .868 OPS from 2005-08, but seven surgeries __ including two comprehensive microfracture procedures on each knee __ derailed his career. Sizemore did not play in 2012 or 2013 before launching this comeback attempt.
"More than anything else, when you take that much time off, it takes a long time __ much longer than people think __ to get your feet back on the ground," Amaro said. "I know Boston gave him an opportunity to play. He had some level of success and then he did struggle at times. We'll see what he has in the tank. We believe in the athlete."
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