SIZEMORE FINDS RIGHT FIT IN OAKLAND
With "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" showing on the TV, Chris Brown playing on the radio and two relief pitchers in a friendly wrestling match, it was obvious that this clubhouse was a little different than others.
That was the scene in the visiting clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia when the Oakland Athletics visited the city of Brotherly Love for an interleague series in late June. In the middle of it all sat former VCU baseball standout Scott Sizemore smiling and joking with his new teammates.
It was a different Sizemore, one who was much more relaxed and comfortable than the one who was thrown into a starting second base job for the Detroit Tigers to start the 2010 season.
After hitting .308 with 17 home runs and 66 RBIs during his 2009 minor league campaign, Detroit handed him the starting second base job with the big league club sans any major league experience.
These weren't the Tigers of early 2000s that lost over 100 games year after year, this was an organization that had built themselves into contenders in the American League Central every year.
Sizemore was given less than 100 at-bats before being sent to join the Triple-A club in Toledo. He had hit .206 with five runs scored and eight RBIs.
"There aren't many guys who get that type of opportunity handed to them and I appreciate [Detroit] giving me that shot," Sizemore said. "Obviously, they are a win-now type of organization and I wasn't able to produce at the level they wanted at that time."
In Toledo, he did what he had always done in the minors, straight mash. Sizemore hit just under .400 with four home runs and 21 RBIs until the Tigers pulled up back up to the major league club on July 20th.
This time, Detroit gave him just 20 at-bats and back to Toledo he went.
"I felt a lot of pressure to perform because I knew if I didn't, I was going to be sent back down," Sizemore said. "I'm not sure if that affected me, but I definitely knew the situation that was in front of me."
After hitting around .300 yet again with Toledo, the Tigers would give him some more at-bats late the season, but Sizemore was never really given an extended chance to prove himself.
The Chesapeake, Va. native would get that chance on May 27, 2011 when Detroit traded him to the Oakland A's for left-handed relief pitcher, David Purcey. Sizemore would nine games with Oakland's Triple-A affiliate before joining the big league club.
"My approach at the plate, my mechanics, none of that changed," Sizemore said. "But ultimately I knew that the A's were going to give a chance to prove myself more than the Tigers were able to. We're a young, up-and-coming team, which definitely creates a little more of a relaxed atmosphere."
The move to Oakland didn't come completely stress free as Sizemore was asked to try his skills at third base, a position he hadn't played on a daily basis since his time in the Cape Cod League (summer of 2005).
"Of course there's a little adjustment, but you still catch the ball and throw the ball the same way," Sizemore said.
The new found level of comfort was obvious right away as Sizemore notched hits in five of his first six outings for the A's, including a career-high 3-for-4 performance against the White Sox, which included a game-winning three-RBI double.
"I'm not doing anything different, I still am going out there and giving it everything I have in order to help this team win," Sizemore said. "I think it's just a matter of time and experience, after getting so many at-bats, you eventually catch on and I think that I'm getting into that now."
Through July 4, Sizemore was hitting .329 in 22 games with Oakland. He has 10 RBIs, nine runs scored and two home runs, but most impressive? His .388 on-base percentage, which led to him being moved into the two-spot in the order by manager Bob Melvin.
"With Scotty's on-base percentage where it is, I had to make the move," Melvin said. "He's done a great job, both offensively and defensively, for us."
Sometimes a new setting produces new results. Sometimes that new setting has two pitchers practicing their german suplexes against each other. Whatever it is, the former Ram seems to have found the right fit.