Sizemore (0-for-2) takes return in stride

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Grady Sizemore has seen bigger crowds around his locker. Like during the ALCS in 2007.

But for a spring training game against a college team? This was a first.

And while his interrogators were hoping for Sizemore to attach cosmic significance to the event, since this was the first time in 889 days that he had played in a game of any kind, Sizemore moved the meter only slightly from nonchalant to mild enthusiasm for the two at-bats and two innings he played against the Northeastern Huskies at JetBlue Park on Thursday afternoon.

In other words, he probably wouldn’t have taken a selfie in left field even if the opportunity had presented itself. The occasion fell something short of lasting memory.

No, he smiled, he didn’t allow himself a moment to soak it all in.

“You would think,’’ he said, “but no, I really just approached it like another game. I was a little excited, happy to get out there.

“Just anxious to get going.’’

Sizemore, who had not played in a game since Sept. 22, 2011, when he was with the Indians, led off for the Red Sox and lifted a routine fly to center. In the second inning, with two on, the left-handed hitter lined out sharply to left field.

Like the rest of the starters in Boston’s 5-2 win over Northeastern, he was lifted after two at-bats. He did not handle a chance in the field, and while he came hard out of the box on both at-bats -- “That’s just the way I play” -- this fell well short of a strenuous test.

Which is the way it was designed. The Sox, mindful of the seven surgeries Sizemore has had since the end of the 2009 season, are approaching this camp with a yellow caution flag for the 31-year-old outfielder. For at least the first week or so, the plan is to play him three or four times, or roughly every other day.

“I know I’m playing Saturday,’’ he said. “After that I don’t know.’’

In playing left field, Sizemore was at a position he’d never played in the big leagues. The last time he played left field was for Double-A Akron in 2003, 11 years ago. Manager John Farrell said he expects most of Sizemore’s looks this spring to come in center field and left.

"Honestly, it didn't feel like a big deal," Sizemore said. "I know it was a big moment for me just to get back out there, but once I was out there, it didn't feel like it was different than any other spring training game. I was just kind of focused on what I normally focus on, and that was that."

OK, then.