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Sizemore eager to see first game action

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Roughly 48 hours from playing in his first organized baseball game since Sept. 22, 2011, this is what Grady Sizemore had to say about his progress this spring.

"Definitely better than expected," Sizemore said. "I didn't expect to come in here and have continuous days without any issues and be able to keep pushing it and keep upping the volume and going from there."

When the Red Sox play their first exhibition game of Spring Training on Thursday afternoon against Northeastern University, Sizemore will be in the starting lineup.

This was the type of game that used to be nothing more than a tune-up for Sizemore back in his days as a superstar for the Cleveland Indians.

But things are different now. Sizemore had the game taken away from him for too long, and he badly wants to get it back.

Thursday marks the first significant step.

"It's an exciting day for me," Sizemore said. "Just being back out there, I'm excited. I can't wait to get there. Obviously I'm not expecting too much. I'm just trying to go out there and have a good game and get the feel back, get my timing back, and I'm just really excited to get back out there."

If Sizemore continues to take steps forward, he will eventually focus on a battle with Jackie Bradley Jr. to be Boston's starting center fielder.

Right now, he needs to take every step necessary to make sure he stays healthy enough to compete.

"Obviously I want to go out there and prove to them that I can play," Sizemore said. "But I'm not trying to do that all in one game. I'm just going to go out there and try to get my feet underneath me, get some looks and hopefully just get some action out there and see what it's like to play and get a feel for it."

Though Sizemore has made more comeback attempts than he cares to remember, he truly feels this one is different, and that his body could finally be ready to withstand the rigors again of being a Major League player.

"There's definitely no doubts," Sizemore said. "I feel good, I feel strong. I think it's just a matter of being smart and not trying to do too much."

He is confident the Red Sox won't let him do too much.

"Oh, absolutely," Sizemore said. "There's not a day that I don't have long discussions with them about how I feel and how things are going. I'm getting evaluated every day. Whether it's out on field with the coaches or in the training room with the medical staff, they're keeping a close eye on me."

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