March 16, 2006
How To Steal a Base
With Grady Sizemore
Grady Sizemore is refining his skills as a base stealer.
Grady Sizemore has the green light.
Considered one of the best young players in the Major Leagues, Sizemore has a green light on his development - and on the base paths.
Acquired from Montreal in 2002, Sizemore got his first taste of the big leagues last season. He made the team in Spring Training this season and has been one of the Tribe's most consistent performers. Stealing bases is one of Sizemore's many talents. He has 96 stolen bases in the Minors, including 32 at Single-A Clinton in 2001. As with the rest of his game, he is refining his skills as a base stealer.
Sizemore talks about the art of the steal and the importance of the stolen base.
The leadoff: This, of course, is where the stolen bases begin. "My lead is pretty much the same all the time," says Sizemore. "I try to get out to the same distance every time. Most pitchers pay attention to what the runner's doing, so you have to watch them. I try to get out as far as I can."
The jump: The most important part of the steal. Without a good jump, the base stealer has little chance. "You have to pick a situation that's good to run in," says Sizemore. "Ideally, you look for something off-speed. It's not really about the count. You look for the best pitch to go on."
The key: A common misconception is stolen bases are achieved by taking advantage of a weak-throwing catcher. In reality, much of the time just the opposite is true. "It's more on the pitcher than the catcher," says Sizemore. "You get your lead on the pitcher and you get your jump on the pitcher. You watch his motion and his delivery to the plate. You also watch his move to first."
The footwork: "I try to have as much balance as I can when I get my lead," he says. "I don't want to get caught leaning, but I do want to get as good of a start as I can and be ready to go in that direction [to second]."
Heading to the bag: Sizemore puts his head down and goes straight to second base. He doesn't look at the batter or the throw. "I go in as hard as I can," he says. "My only focus is on the bag and my slide."
The preparation: Sizemore thinks it's important to study the opposition as much as possible. "You need to know the pitchers and the catchers," he says. "There are so many pitchers. I look at film. You see what pitchers have high leg kicks and which ones don't. It helps a lot."
The significance: "I'm looking to run," he says. "If you can run, that should be part of your game. I try to get into scoring position. That's the big thing. You want to get in a spot where the guys behind you can drive you in. It's really important. Your team's not going to hit five home runs a night."