AN Exclusive: Scott Sizemore On Injury, Recovery, And Fatherhood

Scott Sizemore dives to avoid an asteroid, or whatever the heck is trying to injure him next. - Scott Boehm

On Saturday, March 2nd, I had a chance to interview Scott Sizemore in the clubhouse before the game. My main goal for this interview was to get a sense of what this past year -- featuring an unexpected injury, a year-long rehab, and the birth of his first child -- had been like. At the time of the interview, Sizemore was 1 for 10 in spring training.

Nico: Kind of in chronological order, and if it's not too painful I wanted to go back to the day that you got hurt, the first day of camp last year. Because we didn't hear too much about the details of it. Was it something where, when you first went down -- did you have a sense already, at that moment, of how bad it was going to be?

Sizemore: I guess kind of. I felt something pop and obviously there was a significant amount of pain, but you just never know. Obviously you just hope for the best, but right when it happened my infield coach said, "Oh man, I heard a pop." So, that's not a good sign, so I pretty much had a strong suspicion that something was seriously wrong with it.

Nico: Have you ever had a similar injury to have any basis for knowing what that was?

Sizemore: Not in my knee. I broke my ankle in 2009, so I kind of knew what that felt like and I also broke my hamate (bone in my wrist), so I've had a couple broken bones and kind of know what that feels like. And it was similar; obviously you get a little bit of that nausea going, your mouth starts to water, and once that started to happen I didn't think it was going to be good!

Nico: Were you the one who told your wife? Or...That must not have been an easy call to make.

Sizemore: Well actually she read it on Twitter first, and she didn't know -- I didn't find out what it was until like a few days later when I got my MRI. But (there were) so many posts on Twitter that I "had to get carried off the field," so that's how she found out.

Nico: So the part we didn't hear much about is the kind of agonizing rehab, and all the "rest and rehab" that comes after (the injury and surgery). Can you just give us a sense of what that process was like -- over months, really.

Sizemore: Even before surgery, you have what's called "pre-hab" and with the ACL you have to get your range of motion back so that after surgery you can move it enough. Because you pretty much start doing stuff right away. I didn't have to do this, but a lot of (doctors) these days make their ACL patients ride a stationary bike right after surgery just to show them that they can move and it's ok. I definitely wasn't expecting to do as much as I did right after surgery, so I was in a walking cast, or whatever you want to call it -- a walking brace I think for 6 weeks, and then once I got out of that, obviously limited movement. I think it takes 6-8 weeks for the graft that they take to actually secure itself to the joint and be strong, and then after that it's kind of an uphill climb of increasing movement and stuff. And then of course as soon as you have the strength, you start doing baseball activities, so that didn't really come into play until around August, as far as baseball stuff goes.

Nico: Every injury I've had, the hardest part for me is that when you come back and you're supposedly healthy, it's hard to get yourself to do the things that (Sizemore nods like he knows exactly where I'm going with it, which is "do the things that require you to trust that part of your body, get your brain to let your body go instead of holding back". As you read my question and his answer, it's interesting how I don't even really finish the question and he knows what I'm asking). Can you talk about that, because that seems like that would be the hardest part to get to 100%.

Sizemore: Yeah, that's definitely something you have to get over because your body feels good but at the same time you don't want to push it over the limit and maybe something happens again. But it's just a matter of doing things and building the trust, and knowing that it's going to be ok when you do put a lot of strain on it or whatever it may be. So yeah, that mental aspect of it can be really challenging because you don't want to hurt it again. But at the same time, you need to go out there and test it.

Nico: So now that you're back at 2B and that involves a lot of lateral and quick movement. So what are the areas that have been the toughest so far to navigate?

Sizemore: Well I feel pretty good at 2B. There haven't really been any issues. I think more or less it's kind of making me play under control, because as an infielder you always want your feet underneath you, you want to stay balanced as much as possible, so I think it has helped me in that regard. But at the same time, I still know that I need to be explosive and quick to get as much range as I can and try to take away as many hits as I can. I feel good, though. I don't feel like I've had any inability to play the position at all.

Nico: You've probably never gone a full year between seeing live pitching, either. What's that been like the first couple times you've gotten back into it?

Sizemore: I feel pretty good at the plate. Obviously, not getting the success I want right away, but I'm fine with that because I know it's a process. Every time I step in the box I'm learning something, I'm remembering something that I used to do, so it's been fun making adjustments. But I'm just going to try to continue to build on it and hopefully everything starts to click, and I feel like it will. I feel like I'm close to being where I want to be, so I think it's just a matter of time and seeing enough pitches to find my comfort zone.

Nico: Now, given that you're in a battle for a position in spring training, have the A's told you anything specifically about what does matter, what doesn't matter, what they're looking for, that kind of thing?

Sizemore: Um, no...They haven't been that specific with anything. I think they just want to ease me into games early on, not put too much strain on my body where something might happen. They just told me to concentrate on 2B, get most of my work in there, try to play the best that I can, and we'll see what happens. But that's really all I'm thinking about doing: get ready for the season. If I make the team, great, if not then I go down to Sac and get more work in.

Nico: Given that everyone should expect you to have a certain amount of rust -- probably if you were trying to judge who should start at 2B, you wouldn't judge yourself on your first 10 at bats. So what would you look for as far as, "Yeah, should Scott be the 2Bman?" What would matter, in your estimation?

Sizemore: That's a tough one, because spring training, yes you can evaluate it but at the same time it's a very small sample size so it's tough to decide who wins the starting job on that. But I realize I've missed a year, so it's tough to evaluate me on the player I was just because it has been so long since I've played. So I know there's going to be a bit of a learning curve, and I'm sure (the A's) know that too. It's just kind of a tricky situation because we have so many guys who can play so many positions, so it's stiff competition and more than anything else for myself, I'm just trying to get ready for the season wherever it is.

Nico: On a positive note, I understand you brought a new Sizemore into the world --

Sizemore: {smiles} Yes I did --

Nico: -- so I'd love to hear anything you have to say about what that experience has been like and how it's been.

Sizemore: Um, well I mean it was awesome. I was there for the whole birth -- I was on "left leg duty" so I watched it all go down. Layla is her name. She's been great. As far as I'm concerned, she's a very good baby - but I don't have to do the night shift. I think last night my wife said it was one of the roughest nights. She was up the whole time and really fussy. I could tell she was a little cranky this morning. For me it's been awesome, just because (it's my) first child -- I've never experienced anything like that before, that kind of love. It's like they say, the second she comes out it kind of like an eye-opening experience: you get a little different perspective on things, and already I feel like my life is revolving around this little girl. So I really look forward to seeing her grow, and seeing what kind of person she turns out to be.

Nico: What kind of opportunities will you have during the season -- I know it's hard, you have to be away from your kids a lot.

Sizemore: Yeah, you have your time at home when you have a long home stand or something and hopefully some of the closer trips they might be able to come. But at the same time we want to keep the baby in a relaxed environment as possible especially early on, try to keep her from getting sick. That's one thing guys talked about before I had kids is they said it's hard to go on the road and I never really understood it from that perspective. I just thought it was hard on the wives, hard on the kids. You never really think about it as a guy that it's gonna be really hard to leave them. But I can already tell, just leaving for the day there's always a couple points in the day where I catch myself wondering how (my wife) Brooke and Layla are doing...how the baby is doing, and...yeah.

The following day, Sizemore got off to a great start going 2 for 2 but was also hit by a pitch on the back of his left hand, suffering a bruise but no fracture. He has not played since, but is expected back in the lineup perhaps as soon as Thursday. So...better than last spring!

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