NEW YORK — For the first time in the majors, Grady Sizemore played a position other than center field when he started in left field for the Red Sox against the Yankees on Thursday night.
Jackie Bradley Jr. started in center field and Daniel Nava was in right as the Red Sox used their sixth outfield combination in 10 games this season. They have yet to use the same starting outfield two games in a row.
“With the ground that’s got to be covered here in Yankee Stadium, it’s almost the reverse of what we deal with at Fenway,” manager John Farrell said before a 4-1 loss. “To keep Jackie in center field and put Grady over in left is for that particular reason, it’s to cover the vast space that’s on the left side of the field here.”
Sizemore was in left field for the first time since 2003, when he was a 20-year-old playing in Double A. The Red Sox intended to play Sizemore in left field during spring training but never did.
“As we sat down and talked with Grady about this, [we were] well aware that he has defensively only played center field at the big-league level,” Farrell said. “For the alignment being here at Yankee Stadium, that’s what we’re looking to cover.”
Sizemore made one catch, going to the warning track in the seventh inning to grab a ball off the bat of Yankees rookie Yangervis Solarte. The Red Sox are hoping Sizemore makes a quick adjustment. Bradley is the better defender in center field and if he continues to hit, the rookie could become a fixture there. The best defensive lineup would be Sizemore in left, Bradley in center, and Shane Victorino in right field once he comes off the disabled list.
“It’s an alignment we’ve talked about internally,” Farrell said.
“Felt like it’s the best fit in here with the ground to cover. Whether or not this is something we do more — I’m not going to say on a permanent basis because we’ve shown we’re going to rotate Jonny Gomes through there, he’s going to get ample time in left field as well — this is the way we’re going at it tonight.”
The Sox were strong defensively in the outfield last season. Victorino was a Gold Glove winner in right, Jacoby Ellsbury played well in center, and the Nava/Gomes combination in left was better than expected.
Ellsbury signed with the Yankees in the offseason and Victorino started the season on the disabled list. Nava has already made two errors, one in left and one in right.
“Outfield defense, when it doesn’t get executed, those are the games in which you see some damage because of a given play more so than maybe a ground ball that’s not fielded on the infield,” Farrell said. “We’re looking to put the best lineup each and every day on the field to win.”
With this ring
Farrell and general manager Ben Cherington will present Ellsbury and lefthanded reliever Matt Thornton with their World Series rings privately before Friday’s game.
Because both teams had scouting meetings before batting practice, there was no opportunity to reward the former Red Sox Thursday.
Thornton was acquired in July and appeared in 20 games before being left off the postseason roster.
“It’ll be a chance to share a moment and congratulate them for a great experience,” Farrell said. “To say thanks for all they worked for, and deservedly so.”
There are 16 players from the 2013 title team currently with other organizations. The Sox plan to present their rings in person when possible. Quintin Berry and John McDonald have already received theirs.
Berry, who is now playing in Triple A for Baltimore, was at Fenway Park for the home opener April 4. McDonald, who is with the Angels, had his wife pick up his.
Sizemore hit leadoff for the second time this season and went 0 for 4. The move was made, Farrell said, to drop Nava down in the hope that would help him at the plate.
Nava homered in the seventh inning but also struck out three times. He is 5 of 36 (.139) with two RBIs.
“Right now, we feel like we’ve got to give him an opportunity [to] get his feet on the ground offensively,” Farrell said. “Once he does, we feel like he’ll be in that [leadoff] spot. We’re trying to make the most of the current streaks or the way guys are swinging the bat right now.”
Talking it out
Felix Doubront, who is scheduled to start on Sunday night, didn’t watch much video of his terrible start against the Rangers Tuesday, when the lefthander allowed five runs on six hits and three walks in 2⅔ innings.
“It was more of a talk,” Doubront said of his meeting with pitching coach Juan Nieves. “It’s not a mechanical adjustment, it’s being able to make a pitch when the situation is bad.”
Doubront said he felt fine physically Tuesday but let the game get away from him mentally.
“I got frustrated by things that happened,” Doubront said. “You have to limit the damage. I think I learned a lot.”
The estate of the late Johnny Pesky will hold an auction of his baseball memorabilia at Fenway Park at noon on Saturday.
His 2004 and ’07 World Series rings are among the items being auctioned, along with assorted autographed baseballs and bats. Some Ted Williams memorabilia will be included as well.
A free preview of the collection will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday at Fenway Park.
Third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who is on the disabled list with a strained right calf, could start hitting balls off a tee on Friday . . . Solarte, who was 12 for 28 in his first eight games with six doubles and seven RBIs, introduced himself to David Ortiz during batting practice. “Great kid, man,” Ortiz said. “I don’t know him but I watched the games against Houston. This guy has so much intensity. I’ve seen his at-bats this year, he brings everything to the table I love that in young guys. I wish him the best and gave him some good advice.” . . . Ortiz has reached base in all 23 games he has played against the Yankees since the start of the 2012 season, hitting .425 (37 of 87) in that stretch . . . Dustin Pedroia made a diving play to take a hit away from Ellsbury in the first inning. “He’s seen that enough. He needs to pick another spot to hit the ball, huh?” Pedroia said . . . Craig Breslow made his season debut and retired the side in order in the seventh inning . . . Chris Capuano pitched a scoreless eighth and has gone five innings this season without giving up a run . . . Mark Rivera, the saxophone player in Billy Joel’s band, performed the national anthem. Joel is playing at Fenway on June 26.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.