Fantasy baseball 2014 sleepers: Grady Sizemore, OF, Boston Red Sox – Penn Live

Boston Red Sox outfielder Grady Sizemore is trying to turn back the clock to a time before injuries took the better part of five seasons in the prime of his career. He’s had two microfracture surgeries and worked through a hernia, elbow and knee injuries, pushing the days of four straight 20/20 seasons into the rearview mirror. But he’s back on a one-year deal with Boston and off to a hot, healthy start to spring training.

Can Sizemore stay healthy long enough to re-emerge as a force in fantasy baseball leagues?

Overview: Oft-injured veteran outfielder who is off to a hot start this spring in his quest for a prominent role for the Red Sox.

Background: Was once one of the hottest commodities in fantasy baseball with a run of four straight 20/20 seasons from 2005-’08. … has had microfracture surgeries on both knees, in addition to injuries to his back and elbow. … sat out the 2012 and ’13 seasons and was limited to just 104 games between the 2010-’11 seasons. … at age 31, is now making a push for starting duties in center field, a job that could be his over top prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. if Sizemore is healthy on Opening Day. … originally drafted by the Montreal Expos, Sizemore was sent to the Cleveland Indians, along with Cliff Lee and Brandon Phillips, in the famed Bartolo Colon deal in 2002. … played eight seasons in Cleveland before signing an incentive-laden deal with Boston in the offseason.

2013 stats: N/A (did not play)

Numbers and trends: Was one of just two 30/30 hitters in baseball (Hanley Ramirez was the other) in his last fully healthy season in 2008. … at his best, he can hit for power, draw walks and score runs; just how the injuries effect his game this season is unclear. … strikes out frequently — 20.6 percent of the time for his career — and owns a 42.9 percent career flyball rate, which work against his batting average (.269). … is hitting .381 (8 for 21) this spring while saying he’s still “rusty” from a two-year absence.

Strengths: An explosive hitter whose blend of power and athleticism will get results, if healthy, no matter his age or home stadium. … his patience pays off in more ways than one, as he works favorable counts and puts himself in position to score runs. … has a well-rounded approach that leads to hard contact, extra-base hits and consistent results. … the hot start to spring could push him to a starting job if he can handle the day-to-day wear and tear.

Risk factors: Injuries are the big risk, of course. … has dealt with a multitude of ailments, ranging from nagging to serious, over the last four years that should be viewed with a skeptical eye through the spring and beyond. … has competition for the job in Bradley, who is considered the franchise’s future at center field. … if the injuries take their toll on his steals output, Sizemore becomes a more ordinary player, even in a best-case scenario where he logs 450+ at-bats.

Average draft position: 260.0 ESPN; 245.1 Yahoo!

Verdict: Why not? Barring a continued spring outburst that puts him on more owners’ radars, Sizemore is a last-round flier who could pay big dividends or simply be cut if he suffers an injury.

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