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Sizemore confirms he made right choice

2003 Futures Game

July 13, 2003
By Jim Callis & Josh Boyd

CHICAGO—Three years ago, Grady Sizemore wrestled with a decision whether to play football or baseball. At the All-Stars Future Game, Sizemore once again proved that he made the right choice.

Sizemore, an outfielder in the Indians system, led the U.S. team to a 3-2 win over the World squad with an RBI single and a solo homer in three at-bats. Reds outfielder Stephen Smitherman's homer off Mariners lefthander Travis Blackley in the bottom of the sixth was the decisive blow, but Sizemore won the Larry Doby Award as the game's MVP.

Sizemore's homer came off righthander Seung Song of the Expos, the organization that drafted Sizemore out of Cascade High (Everett, Wash.) in the third round of the 2000 draft. He also was a blue-chip quarterback recruit who had signed with Washington after also being pursued by Arizona State, California, Clemson and Washington State.

Montreal's $2 million bonus offer helped Sizemore make up his mind, but he said his heart always was with baseball.

"In the end, I loved baseball more," said Sizemore, 20. "It's just kind of what I wanted to do. Football is a great sport, and I loved playing it, but there's nothing like baseball."

Sizemore described his Futures Game performance as the highlight of his pro career. Though he's considered one of the best outfield prospects in the game, power isn't his forte. He has hit just 15 homers in 390 games, including nine in 90 Double-A contests this year.

Sizemore, who was hitting .292 with 54 RBIs for Akron, also was selected to play in the Eastern League all-star game, scheduled for Wednesday in New Britain, Conn.

Greinke Solves His Dilemma

After he walked into the clubhouse at U.S. Cellular Field before his first Futures Game appearance, Royals phenom Zack Greinke wondered how he should approach his one-inning stint.

"Should I go out there and throw some ched?" the 19-year-old righthander asked. "Or should I just go out there and throw some stuff that moves all over?"

Already hailed as the quintessential thinking man's pitcher and compared to aces such as Greg Maddux, David Cone, Bret Saberhagen and Orel Hershiser, Greinke made up his mind after batting practice.

"I'm going to go with finesse," Greinke said, "and then if I get to two strikes and it looks like he doesn't want heat then I will hump up on one or two."

Though he was signed out of high school barely a year ago, Greinke has the ability to put his thoughts and words into action on the mound.

"He found out early on that it is kind of fun to do that," an American League scout said before the game. "He's just not afraid to throw strikes. It all revolves around the command of his fastball."

True to his word, Greinke went out and filled the strike zone with seven straight strikes, mixing his 88-92 mph moving fastball with an overhand curveball that bottomed out at 57 mph. He pitched a perfect fourth inning, throwing nine of 12 pitches for strikes and fanning Devil Rays DH Pete LaForest and Mets catcher Justin Huber.

Thunder Against Down Under

Smitherman's homer came after Blackley made him look silly on consecutive changeups, then tried to fool him with a third. Blackley said his initial thought was to finish Smitherman off with a fastball. But batterymate Huber, who caught him for years back in Australia, signaled for another offspeed pitch. "If that pitch was where it should have been," Huber said, "it would have been strike three."

Blue Jays outfielder Alexis Rios, on his solo homer off Mariners righthander Clint Nageotte: "Fastball away, I hit that all day."

A pair of catchers generated the most impressive power displays in batting practice. LaForest hit a number of towering shots to all fields, while Anaheim's Jeff Mathis sent several liners screaming over the left-field fence.

The two starting pitchers, Neal Cotts for the U.S. and Rich Harden for the World, made their pro debuts together at short-season Vancouver in the Athletics system two years ago. Cotts joined the White Sox last December in the Keith Foulke/Billy Koch trade. Rumors were circulating that Harden will be promoted to Oakland and make his major league debut Friday with a start against the Twins. "I'm not talking about any rumors," Harden said with a laugh. He struck out Diamondbacks third baseman Chad Tracy, Braves first baseman Adam LaRoche and Reds outfielder Steve Smitherman, though he also gave up a run.

Besides Greinke, the pitchers who impressed scouts the most were Harden, Pirates righthander John VanBenschoten and Phillies righty Gavin Floyd. Harden pitched between 92-98 mph with his fastball and showed a hard slider and splitter. Scouts liked VanBenschoten's delivery and arm action as much as his 88-91 mph fastball. "That's what it supposed to look like right there," a National League scout said of VanBenschoten's textbook delivery. Floyd, who struck out Rangers second baseman Ramon Nivar and Royals outfielder Alexis Gomez in the third, showed a 91-93 mph fastball that featured cut, run and sink. His hammer curveball is a true power pitch at 77-78 mph.

What did on-base machine Kevin Youkilis of the Red Sox do in his lone plate appearance? He walked, of course, against Marlins righthander Denny Bautista. Youkilis, who leads the minors with a .480 on-base percentage, has reached base in his last 50 games for Double-A Portland.

Song became the first player ever to make three Futures Game appearances. The lone Korean in this year's contest, Song represented the Red Sox twice before they traded him to Montreal last July in a deal for Cliff Floyd.

Scott Thorman didn't find out that he'd be attending the Futures Game until Friday morning. He got a call from Braves farm director Dayton Moore and flew to Chicago Saturday. First base on the World team was easily the toughest position to fill. The best choice, Justin Morneau, got called up by the Twins on June 10. Catcher Victor Martinez, who has seen some time at first, was in line to start there before the Indians brought him up on June 27. That made Rockies outfielder Rene Reyes, who hasn't played at first since last year, the starter. Chin-Feng Chen, who has played mostly left field in 2003, was slated to be his backup until the Dodgers summoned him to the majors Friday.

Other changes from the original rosters: Lefthander Chris Narveson replaced fellow Cardinal Dan Haren after the latter was called to St. Louis. The Devil Rays' representative switched from second baseman Antonio Perez, who was promoted, to LaForest. Diamondbacks righthander Edgar Gonzalez filled in for Cubs righty Angel Guzman, who had shoulder surgery.

Contributing: Kevin Goldstein.

Box Score
U.S. Futures Team 3, World Futures Team 2
 
              1 2 3 4 5 6 7       R H E 
World Futures 1 0 0 0 1 0 0       2 5 1 
U.S. Futures  1 0 1 0 0 1 x       3 6 0 
 

World Futures  AB  R  H BI BB SO LOB AVG 
Nivar, 2B       2  1  1  0  0  1  0 .500 
a-Cano, PH-2B   2  0  0  0  0  1  2 .000 
Gomez, RF       2  0  0  0  0  2  1 .000 
b-Pie, PH-RF    1  0  0  0  0  1  1 .000 
Reyes, 1B       3  0  0  0  0  1  2 .000 
LaForest, DH    2  0  0  0  1  1  0 .000 
Gutierrez, LF   3  0  2  1  0  0  0 .667 
Quiroz, C       2  0  0  0  0  1  2 .000 
Huber, C        1  0  0  0  0  0  1 .000 
Rios, CF        3  1  1  1  0  2  0 .333 
Marte, 3B       1  0  0  0  1  0  0 .000 
Encarnacion, 3B 1  0  0  0  0  0  0 .000 
Castillo, SS    2  0  0  0  0  1  1 .000 
c-Thorman, PH   1  0  1  0  0  0  0 1.000 
Totals         26  2  5  2  2 11 10   
 
a-Struck out for Nivar in the 5th. 
b-Struck out for Gomez in the 5th. 
c-Singled for Castillo in the 7th.  
 
BATTING
2B: Nivar (1, Cotts).
HR: Rios (1, 5th inning off Nageotte, 0 on, 0 out).
2-out RBI: Gutierrez.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Quiroz, Huber.
Team LOB: 5.
 
BASERUNNING
SB: Nivar (1, 3rd base off Cotts/Mauer).
 
FIELDING
E: Castillo (1, throw).
PB: Huber (1).

U.S. Futures   AB  R  H BI BB SO LOB AVG 
Krynzel, CF     2  1  0  0  1  0  1 .000 
Sizemore, LF    3  1  2  2  0  0  0 .667 
Tracy, 3B       2  0  0  0  0  1  1 .000 
Youkilis, 3B    0  0  0  0  1  0  0 .000 
LaRoche, 1B     2  0  1  0  0  1  1 .500 
Howard, 1B      1  0  0  0  0  1  1 .000 
Kelton, DH      2  0  0  0  1  2  2 .000 
Smitherman, RF  3  1  2  1  0  1  2 .667 
Mauer, C        2  0  0  0  0  0  2 .000 
Mathis, C       1  0  0  0  0  0  0 .000 
Burke, 2B       2  0  0  0  0  1  0 .000 
Barfield, 2B    1  0  0  0  0  0  0 .000 
Hardy, SS       2  0  1  0  0  0  1 .500 
Greene, SS      1  0  0  0  0  1  0 .000 
Totals         24  3  6  3  3  8 11   
 
BATTING
2B: Smitherman (1, Song).
HR: Sizemore (1, 3rd inning off Song, 0 on, 0 out), 
    Smitherman (1, 6th inning off Blackley, 0 on, 0 out).
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Smitherman, Krynzel, Mauer 2, Kelton.
Team LOB: 6.
 
BASERUNNING
SB: Krynzel (1, 2nd base off Harden/Quiroz), 
    Youkilis (1, 2nd base off Bautista/Huber).
CS: Hardy (1, 2nd base by Tsao/Huber).
 
FIELDING
Outfield assists: Krynzel (Gomez at 1st base).
DP: (Krynzel-LaRoche).
 
World Futures  IP  H  R ER BB SO HR  ERA 
Harden        1.0  1  1  1  2  3  0  9.00 
Gonzalez      1.0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0.00 
Song          1.0  3  1  1  0  1  1  9.00 
Tsao          1.0  1  0  0  0  1  0  0.00 
Bautista      1.0  0  0  0  1  2  0  0.00 
Blackley (L)  0.1  1  1  1  0  0  1 27.00 
De La Rosa    0.2  0  0  0  0  1  0  0.00 
  
U.S. Futures   IP  H  R ER BB SO HR  ERA 
Cotts         1.0  2  1  1  1  2  0  9.00 
VanBenschoten 1.0  0  0  0  0  1  0  0.00 
Floyd         1.0  0  0  0  0  2  0  0.00 
Greinke       1.0  0  0  0  0  2  0  0.00 
Nageotte      0.2  1  1  1  1  2  1 13.50 
Durbin        0.1  0  0  0  0  1  0  0.00 
Maine         0.2  0  0  0  0  0  0  0.00 
Larrison (W)  0.1  1  0  0  0  0  0  0.00 
Narveson (H)  0.2  0  0  0  0  1  0  0.00 
Ring (S)      0.1  1  0  0  0  0  0  0.00 
 
WP: Floyd, Larrison.
Pitches-strikes: Harden 25-14, Gonzalez 16-10, Song 21-15, 
Tsao 15-8, Bautista 22-10, Blackley 7-4, De La Rosa 11-7, 
Cotts 38-28, Van Benschoten 9-7, Floyd 13-8, Greinke 12-9, 
Nageotte 14-9, Durbin 6-5, Maine 5-3, Larrison 7-5, Narveson 6-4, 
Ring 8-5.
Ground outs-fly outs: Harden 0-0, Gonzalez 2-1, Song 1-1, Tsao 0-1, 
Bautista 0-1, Blackley 1-0, De La Rosa 0-1, Cotts 1-0, Van Benschoten 1-1, 
Floyd 0-2, Greinke 0-1, Nageotte 0-0, Durbin 0-0, Maine 0-2, Larrison 1-0, 
Narveson 0-1, Ring 1-0.
Batters faced: Harden 6, Gonzalez 4, Song 6, Tsao 3, Bautista 4, 
Blackley 2, De La Rosa 2, Cotts 6, Van Benschoten 3, Floyd 3, 
Greinke 3, Nageotte 4, Durbin 1, Maine 2, Larrison 2, Narveson 2, Ring 2.
Inherited runners-scored: Durbin 1-0.
Umpires: HP: Scott Kennedy. 1B: Todd Tichenor. 2B: John McMasters. 3B: Cameron Keller.
Weather: 80 degrees, sunny.
Wind: 7 mph, In from RF.
T: 2:14.
 

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