History won't alter Grady's spot in order
Next home run will punch star's ticket in exclusive 30/30 club
ARLINGTON -- Grady Sizemore is on the verge of becoming the 14th American League player in history to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases. However, manager Eric Wedge has no intention of moving Sizemore from the leadoff spot to the heart of the order, where power hitters usually reside.While there may be a power void in the Cleveland lineup, Wedge doesn't want to create an equally troubling hole at the top of his order by moving Sizemore down. "The only way we'd consider that is if we had somebody capable of hitting leadoff," Wedge said. "You've got to have a leadoff hitter. You have to have somebody there. He enjoys doing it and he's good at it -- he's one of the best."
Sizemore has hit six leadoff home runs this season, setting a new club record, but Wedge said there are no other strong candidates to take his place atop the order.The fact that Sizemore wants to be a leadoff hitter makes Wedge even less willing to move him to the middle of the order. "I don't think it's a bad thing to lead off with a home run," Wedge said.
According to Wedge, it's not as simple as it sounds to simply plug a player into a certain spot in the order and expect them to produce the same numbers there. So, as far as Wedge is concerned, Sizemore has the leadoff spot on lockdown, and it's up to the rest of the order to pick up its production behind him."The players have to work off each other," Wedge said. "The players have to fit."
As for Sizemore, with the next home run he hits this season, he'll fit into rare company.A 30/30 season has been accomplished 51 times in Major League history by only 31 different players -- 13 of whom played in the American League. The only other Indians player to do it was Joe Carter, with 32 home runs and 31 stolen bases in 1987. "So many people have done it," Wedge said. "The list is a little bit longer, probably, in the last 25 years, but it's still a great accomplishment." In the opposite dugout, Rangers manager Ron Washington knows a thing or two about duel-threat leadoff men, having used Ian Kinsler in that role prior to the second baseman landing on the disabled list. But even Kinsler is 12 home runs and four stolen bases shy of the 30/30 mark, giving Washington all the more appreciation for the position Sizemore is in. "It's impressive, especially as a leadoff hitter," Washington said. "But he certainly has that kind of stroke to hit the ball out of the ballpark and steal bases. Plus, he plays every game. He's a gamer."
Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.