BOSTON -- They plastered his image on the cover of Sports Illustrated earlier this year, and they've sung his praises on "Baseball Tonight."

But Grady Sizemore's real coming-out party is right here, on the American League Championship Series stage. Because here and only here can the nation get a good, hard look at the game-changing hustle Sizemore brings to the field.

Red Sox pitchers have already had a good, hard look at Sizemore -- both live and on video. And Games 1 and 2 starters Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling, during their pre-series interview sessions with reporters, harped on the importance of retiring Sizemore.

"I think Grady is one of those guys, much like Vladdy [Guerrero] was when he was in Montreal," Schilling said. "I think he's somehow flown under the radar, because I look at him as very much an impact player. He's probably Johnny Damon with more power."

Those were certainly big words of praise from Schilling, and they obviously have merit. Sizemore sparked the top of the Tribe's lineup in the AL Division Series against the Yankees, batting .375 (6-for-16) with a triple, a homer, four walks and a .524 on-base percentage.

It was the kind of showing that could very well make Sizemore a household name, if he isn't already.

"I don't really have a good pulse on how he's viewed nationally," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "I know what he means to our ballclub and what a great player he is. What matters to me is the consistency he brings to the ballpark every day and how he handles things."

The 25-year-old Sizemore handled his first exposure to the postseason about as well as anybody could reasonably expect. And if the Indians are going to continue their playoff run to the World Series, they'll need their leadoff man to continue to do so.

"Being at the top of the lineup, that's kind of where I want to be," Sizemore said. "I want to be the table-setter and try to get on and create for the rest of the guys behind me."

For now, he's creating a buzz among the Boston pitchers. When asked about handling the Tribe's lineup, Beckett first pointed to Sizemore.

"You've got to start at the top with Grady," Beckett said. "He's the one that gets everything going."

Award season: Their focus, at this point, is the collective effort of the team. But the Indians can expect plenty of individual recognition in the weeks to come.

Some of it has already started to pour in. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum has announced its list of Legacy Award winners, and the Tribe is well represented.

Indians ace C.C. Sabathia won the Bullet Rogan Legacy Award as the top pitcher in the AL, closer Joe Borowski won the Hilton Smith Award for leading the AL in saves, Wedge won the C.I. Taylor Award as the league's best manager and general manager Mark Shapiro won the Rube Foster Award as the AL's top executive.

The Baseball Writers' Association of America will hand out its hardware for the Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, Most Valuable Player and Manager of the Year Awards between Nov. 12 and 20.

The two awards of particular interest to the Indians are the AL Cy Young, which will be announced on Nov. 13, and the AL Manager of the Year, which will be announced on Nov. 14. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona are prime candidates for the former, while Wedge is a candidate for the latter.

Fausto flattery: Schilling didn't limit his praise of the Indians to Sizemore. He had equally kind things to say about Carmona, his Game 2 opponent.

It will be an intriguing pitching matchup on Saturday night -- the veteran Schilling making his 17th postseason start, and Carmona making just his second. Schilling went so far as to say that he feels he's the "underdog" in this battle.

complete coverage
Home  |  News  |  Multimedia  |  Photos

"It's been a long time, I think, since I've gone into a game being an underdog," Schilling said, "but given the year he had and the way he's throwing, I can absolutely see why people think we're going to have a hard time winning that game. He's been phenomenal, he's been consistent, his stuff is electric and he's been fun to watch."

Getting their work in: Mother Nature didn't allow the Indians to get in their full workouts on Wednesday and Thursday. Heavy rain in Cleveland and Boston limited the Tribe to some games of catch on the outfield grass at Jacobs Field and Fenway Park, and indoor hitting.

The Indians were finally able to stage a legit batting practice before Game 1 on Friday night. As for the missed days ...

"We were still able to play some catch and look at the ballpark and do some things we needed to do, verbally," Wedge said.

Numbers watch: His antics are described as "Manny being Manny." But which Manny Ramirez will show up for the ALCS?

Ramirez's numbers during his time with the Tribe and his time with the Red Sox are similar. But his postseason numbers with the two clubs couldn't be more different.

In 52 playoff games with the Indians, Ramirez batted just .170 with 13 homers and 26 RBIs. He hit .170 with runners in scoring position, and the Indians went 27-25 in playoff games during his Tribe tenure.

With the Red Sox, Ramirez has played in 32 playoff games, and his team has gone 20-12. He has hit .315 with nine homers and 26 RBIs in 26 fewer at-bats than he had with Cleveland. He's hitting .324 with runners in scoring position.

The Indians lost two World Series with Ramirez on the roster in '95 and '97. In '04, the Red Sox won the Series, with Ramirez garnering MVP honors.

Festivus for the rest of us: The Indians announced their pregame festivities for Games 3, 4 and 5 at Jacobs Field.

Popular "Today Show" weatherman Al Roker will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 3, with singer Ashley Nemeh handling the national anthem. In Game 4, WBC-WBO middleweight world champ and Youngstown, Ohio, native Kelly "The Ghost" Pavlik will throw out the first pitch and country singer Rissi Palmer will sing.

If a Game 5 occurs, Olympic gold medal figure skater and Bowling Green, Ohio, native Scott Hamilton will throw out the first pitch, and 16-year-old country artist Taylor Swift will sing the anthem.

Tribe tidbits: With the roster composition the same in this round as it was in the ALDS, left-hander Aaron Laffey remains the long man out of the bullpen, should a Tribe starter have a rough night. But Wedge said he might use a right-handed pitcher for an inning or two before Laffey, depending on which part of the Red Sox's lineup the Indians are facing. "I might bridge the gap with someone else," Wedge said. ... The ALCS has a new format this year, with an extra off-day between Games 4 and 5 (if necessary). Does the change affect the Tribe? Well, no, considering most of the players on this club have never played in this round. "Most of our guys don't know [about that change]," Wedge said with a laugh. ... The Red Sox flip-flopped their Games 2 and 3 starters from the ALDS to the ALCS, moving Schilling to Game 2 and Daisuke Matsuzaka to Game 3. "I didn't think much of it," Wedge said. "We're going to have to face them both, anyway."

On deck: Game 2 has a later start time, with the first pitch Saturday scheduled for 8:21 p.m. ET at Fenway Park.