On Second Thought


It wasn’t long ago on this very blog that I all but proclaimed Scott Sizemore‘s Tigers career over. I may have fallen victim to one of the classic (blogging) blunders. The most famous of which is to never write a game recap before the final out is recorded (see last night’s game), but only slightly less-well-known is this: Never give up on a top prospect after only 117 at bats.

A funny thing has happened since I wrote the article that spoke of a possible trade of Sizemore this winter. Will Rhymes has slowed his pace toward locking up second base duties in Motown next year and Sizemore has been given a chance to play a bit. And he has taken the opportunity by the throat.

With Carlos Guillen very likely to miss all of next year after microfracture surgery on his knee, one of the biggest hurdles facing either Rhymes or Sizemore has been cleared. One of these two will be the regular second baseman in Detroit next year, or I guess it could be both.

Since I wrote that piece, Sizemore has played in four of the Tigers five games. He has started two and appeared as a pinch hitter in the other two. In that same span, Rhymes has played in all five games, starting three of them. Jim Leyland has been using them in a strict platoon, with one replacing the other later in games depending on the pitching matchup.

Rhymes has collected just three hits in his last 15 at bats but included in that is a clutch pinch-hit two-run double last night. Sizemore, however, has jump started his audition with five hits in his last eight at bats, including two home runs, one of which was a game-winner on Saturday.

If I was premature in writing Sizemore’s career obituary last week I’m probably putting far too much stock in eight at bats during meaningless September games. That said, this is the first time we have seen any life from Sizemore at the major league level, so forgive me if I get a bit excited about it.

Rhymes is still the better defender, although he has failed to turn a couple of double plays recently, and he probably has a bit more range than Sizemore as well. But Sizemore has the ability to drive the ball over the fence, which is something we had heard he could do but hadn’t really seen it until this weekend.

What we don’t know, and might never know, is how much his ankle had been bothering him during his 30 game run before he was sent down in May. If Sizemore wasn’t comfortable on his ankle, it stands to reason that he would struggle to hit. I’m not sure it really matters much now, maybe it was just that he wasn’t ready to face the pressure of the majors.

The off-season is rapidly approaching and the Tigers will have many holes to fill. They may find a second baseman on the open market and this discussion will become moot. If not, the Tigers might well go into camp next spring with two guys competing for at bats at second base. But for the past week, Leyland has split their time quite well.

It will be interesting to see if Sizemore begins to get some starts versus right handed pitchers, if he does, that could be a sign that Sizemore is back in the mix as a potential everyday guy. If not, it might be the best he can hope for is to serve as platoon-mate for Rhymes.