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Despite breaking bat, Sizemore goes yard in debut

Center fielder 2-for-4, happy to be back in big leagues after two-year absence

BALTIMORE -- Grady Sizemore broke his bat and still hit a home run.

Finally, things are going Sizemore's way again as he punctuated his comeback by belting a game-tying homer for the Red Sox in Monday afternoon's 2-1 loss to the Orioles.

After not playing a Major League game since Sept. 22, 2011, Sizemore couldn't wait to get to Camden Yards for his return to action.

"Today was very exciting," Sizemore said. "I couldn't wait to get to the ballpark. I was up first thing in the morning and definitely had a better appreciation for the game and all the little things that go into it."

Sizemore, who beat out No. 3 prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. to become the Red Sox's starting center fielder, belted a single to right in his first at-bat.

In the fourth, Sizemore worked the count on Chris Tillman to 3-1 before just getting enough of one to put it over the wall in right.

"It was exciting at the time," Sizemore said. "It's a nice feeling to get that first one. Just going through what I've gone through, it felt nice to get that moment. I think I actually broke my bat, so I wasn't really thinking it was going to carry out, but it got up in that wind."

If anyone deserved a lucky gust of wind, perhaps it was Sizemore.

"It's good to see him healthy," said slugger Mike Napoli. "He's confident out there. You can see him running around not worrying about anything and just playing the game. He's going to be big for us."

The Red Sox signed Sizemore in January for a one-year contract at a base salary of $750,000. He can earn up to $6 million in performance-based incentives.

"The home run was awesome," said Dustin Pedroia. "Just his at-bats, he looked comfortable, he looks great out there. We're pretty proud of him with what he's been through to get back to this point. He's going to be a huge force for us."

A former star for the Cleveland Indians, a barrage of injuries, including microfracture surgeries on both knees, kept Sizemore off the field entirely for the past two seasons.

"I wasn't thinking my career was over," Sizemore said. "It was just, 'How am I going to get back'? I just couldn't find the right game plan. You just try to find any solution to get healthy."

Finally, Sizemore found a combination that had him back on the field Monday and hoping he can stay in center field for the Red Sox all season.

"I'm just happy to be back, happy to be healthy and looking forward to getting the opportunity to play and help contribute," Sizemore said.

Ian Browne is a reporter for Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne.
Read More: Boston Red Sox, Grady Sizemore