Sizemore Looking to Finish Strong

The 2008 baseball season was a rough year for Toledo Mud Hens second baseman Scott Sizemore. Sizemore, who was playing for the Lakeland Flying Tigers, saw his 2008 season end when he fractured the hamate bone in his wrist. The Tigers rising star found his duties relegated to just watching games instead of playing in them.

"It was tough," Scott Sizemore said. "It was one of those injuries that kind of lingered on. They told me it would be a 4-6 weeks type of thing. It ended up taking six months for me to get comfortable swinging a bat again without feeling any pain."

The type of injury Sizemore suffered is common amongst hitters. All-Star Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia experienced a similar problem in 2007. But with such a minute injury, sometimes it is tougher mentally than it is physically.

"The mind games kill you," Sizemore said. "You are constantly wondering if you are ever going to get back to where you were, especially when it takes longer to get back than originally expected."

The injury was the first major blow in what has been a remarkable short career for the second baseman. Sizemore's accolades are numerous including several nominations to All Star teams throughout the minor leagues. He had been listed as the third best prospect in the Detroit Tigers organization heading into the 2008 season and seventh best prospect heading into this season by Baseball America.

"Just to be able to get back was all I wanted to do. I just made that my only goal at that point," Sizemore said.

The Virginia Beach native was a non roster invitee to big league camp this past season, hoping to prove to the Tigers that he had fully recovered and was ready to go. In ten at bats this spring, Sizemore only collected two hits, but both hits were home runs, showing he had regained strength to drive the ball again.

"To get back out there and play was great," Sizemore said. "It was a huge boost to my confidence and my overall attitude."

Sizemore started the year with Double-A Erie, and if there were any lingering thoughts about a diminished ability, Sizemore quickly put them to rest. In 59 games with the Seawolves, he hit .307 while collecting 9 HR and 33 RBI. Sizemore also hit 17 doubles during that time. His good start earned him a June call up to Toledo in exchange for Danny Worth.

The promotion to Toledo marked another step in what has been an astronomical rise through the minor league ranks of the Tiger organization. The 5th round pick out of Virginia Commonwealth University found himself one step closer to the big leagues. But Sizemore is more modest about his quick rise through the ranks of the Tigers organization.

"I just try and be as consistent as possible. I just have tried to show the kind of player I can be," Sizemore said. "Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of work and I need to continue to get better, but I just go out there with the mindset of staying consistent in all facets of the game."

Before the All-Star break, Sizemore hit .281 in 21 games with Toledo. He collected six doubles, two home runs, and eight RBI. For his combined efforts in Erie and Toledo, Sizemore was named to the U.S. team for the All-Star Futures game.

"It was a fun experience," Sizemore said. "I got to play at the new Busch Stadium in St. Louis and I got to take infield with Ozzie Smith too."

But when the second half started, Sizemore got right back down to business. Since the start of the second half, the numbers have been stellar. Sizemore is hitting .323 with 12 doubles, 5 HR, and 19 RBI. Often it is Sizemore, who has been hitting in the number two spot in the lineup on a regular basis, providing the offensive spark for the Mud Hens line up.

"Scotty has been playing real well for us since he was promoted up here," Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said. "He is really making a statement down here and making his case to be the second baseman of the future for the Tigers."

Sizemore has dealt with the high expectations well. It is a well known fact that current Tigers second baseman, Placido Polanco, is in the final year of his contract. He is not expected to be resigned this off season, and Sizemore seems to be at the top of the list to replace him in 2010. But the former third team All-American tries not to let the extra attention distract him.

"At time the pressure gets to me, but I try and not let it affect me," Sizemore said, "I put more pressure on myself than anyone ever could. So if I am satisfied with the way I am playing than I think other people will be too."

Many scouts consider Sizemore to possess all of the tools necessary to be an everyday second baseman at the big league level. After being converted from catcher to second base like his boyhood idol Craig Biggio, Sizemore has become one of the best defensive infielders in the Tiger organization. His offensive prowess has impressed many as well. Sizemore has proved despite the wrist injury that he is still able to drive the ball into the gaps, and he even shows flashes of a little power here and there. He has the ability to hit for average as well and has great discipline at the plate.

"He has stuff to work on and he needs to get better," Parrish said. "Ultimately he is going to have to hit, but the challenge in front of him is not anything than he is not capable of doing."

With September call ups looming, Sizemore is considered a lock as one of the players to be added when the rosters expand on September 1st. His play next month could go a long way in determining just how ready he is to be the starting second baseman next year in the Motor City.

"I would love to get that call up. It would be a dream come true for me, and it is what I have worked for my entire career," Sizemore said.

Wherever he is next season, the future looks bright for the twenty four year old second baseman. Whether it was the wrist injury or meeting lofty expectations set forth within the organization, Sizemore has always risen to the occasion. It has been his calling card through out his baseball career.

"It would be an honor to be the second baseman for the Tigers next year," Sizemore said. "I want to finish strong and make a push for the playoffs with this team. If next year I make it with Detroit, that's great, but if I don't I am going to continue to grind it out down here and do my best until I get my shot."

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