Early returns on Sizemore: Promising

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Caution remains the byword. Everyone involved knows the history, and the odds against this thing working.

But Red Sox manager John Farrell sounded pretty bullish Saturday about the Grady Sizemore Resurrection Tour.

With the exhibition schedule due to begin Thursday with the doubleheader against college teams Northeastern and Boston College, Farrell was asked how soon he expected to see Sizemore in game activity.

"Based on what we're seeing right now, we're looking forward to it," Farrell said. "But we've got to temper that. His case is well-documented. He's aware that while he feels great -- two days ago, he had a phenomenal day out here. Running the bases at full speed, defensive work at full speed. He's handling live pitching well. Those are the only things you see right now.

"Everything has been very encouraging. We're going to have to temper either our enthusiasm or how much we push him, just to gradually get him back into game shape."

Sizemore, a three-time All-Star with the Indians before the age of 25, has had seven surgeries since the end of 2009, including microfracture surgery on both knees, two sports hernia operations, and a back operation. He has not played professionally since 2011. He is 31 years old. He has endured some of the most grinding rehab work imaginable -- eight hours a day for eight weeks attached to a machine that continually bent his knee, two rounds of that, one for each knee.

The last time he tried to come back, in spring training 2012, he was betrayed by both his knee and his back. It happened, he said, early in camp.

So far, though, all systems remain go.

"His input into how he responds -- for instance, using two days ago as an example, at the end of the day physically he felt like he had a solid work day," Farrell said. "Whether there was a little soreness coming off the field after that, the next day he walked in and felt great. When he shows up at the ballpark, that's been his gauge. And there's been no need for additional treatment of any kind, or in his mind, any concern about his recovery.

"So far, so good."