Sizemore giving Rays a lift on offense

Veteran outfielder has looked comfortable in the batter's box

Sizemore giving Rays a lift on offense

NEW YORK -- Rays manager Kevin Cash had a hunch Friday night: Stick veteran Grady Sizemore into the leadoff spot.

Cash's logic was sound, as Sizemore has been hot on a team that hasn't been offensively. And the veteran rewarded Cash by continuing his strong showing at the plate in the 7-5 loss to the Yankees in 12 innings at Yankee Stadium.

The Phillies released Sizemore on June 1, and the Rays signed him on June 15. He played in his first game with Tampa Bay on Sunday, getting three hits against the Red Sox.

Sizemore singles in Rays' debut

He got the Rays going early Friday when he led off the game with a double. That opened the door for a two-run first inning. Sizemore finished the night with three hits in four at-bats to raise his average to .409 with Tampa Bay.

"He swung the bat well," Cash said. "Grady's really staying on the ball well. Not trying to do too much. ... He really looks really comfortable in the box right now."

Sizemore, 32, was once considered one of the best players in baseball before getting saddled with one injury after the next. Now he's hoping to squeeze out every ounce of the Major Leagues left in his career. He considers his job with the Rays to "just contribute any way I can."

"Try and be ready every day and kind of mix in with these guys and help do what they've been doing," Sizemore said. "Just play my game."

Longoria's RBI double

Sizemore managed a smile when reminded that he is one of the few players in the Rays' clubhouse who played in the old Yankee Stadium.

"All of a sudden you look up and you blink an eye and you're the old guy and half your teammates are coaching or announcing or whatever," Sizemore said. "But it's fun, I like being a part of this group of guys. It's kind of being on the other side of things, watching the young guys do their thing and just sit back and smile and have fun."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.