Red Sox notes: John Farrell explains switch for Grady Sizemore

Rob Bradford
April 10, 2014 - 3:37 pm

NEW YORK -- Prior to his team'€™s series-opening game against the Yankees Thursday night, John Farrell explained why Grady Sizemore had been pushed over to left field, with Jackie Bradley Jr. manning center. Farrell said the move had more to do with the venue then anything else. "With the ground that's going to be covered here in Yankee Stadium is almost the reverse of what we deal with at Fenway," he said. "To keep Jackie in center field and Grady over in left is for that particular reason -- to cover the vast space that's on the left side of the field." The manager then added, "As we sat down and talked with Grady about this, well aware that he has defensively only played center field at the big-league level, he's played a number of games at the minor league level in left field. The alignment being here at Yankee Stadium, that's what we're looking to cover. "It's an alignment we've talked about internally. It's best fitting here with the ground to cover. Whether or not this is something we do, I'm not going to say on a permanent basis because we've shown we're going to rotate Jonny Gomes through there and he's going to get ample time in left field as well. This is the way we're going at it tonight. This isn't something that we're looking to pencil in every day going forward." Then there was the matter of where Sizemore was hitting in the lineup. For just the second time this season, the outfielder found himself at the top of the batting order, with Farrell moving Daniel Nava -- who had gotten the majority of time at the top of the order against right-handed starters -- down to fifth. "It's as much trying to get Daniel going," Farrell said. "We still value the on-base, which Daniel has a strong track record of that, and yet right now we feel like we've got to give him an opportunity to get his feet on the ground offensively. Once he does, we feel like he'll be in that spot. Just trying to make the most of the current streaks or the way guys are swinging the bat right now." -- Farrell said he and Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington were planning on presenting World Series rings to both Jacoby Ellsbury and Matt Thornton prior to Friday night'€™s game. "I don't think he'll be distracted by it, by any means," Farrell said regarding Ellsbury'€™s first meeting with his old teammates. "He's been on a pretty visible stage his whole career -- playing in Boston, playing in World Series. That never seemed to take away from how he went about his game. I don't think this series or playing against the Red Sox is going to take away from his play or distract it in any way." When asked if he would be handing out any more rings in person, Farrell noted that one of the last remaining regulars not to have attended the ceremony, Jarrod Saltalmacchia, would be hard to track down. "Well, we don'€™t play the Marlins this year so I don'€™t know how I'€™m going to give it to Salty," he said. "I don'€™t know if he'€™s flying to Boston, but I don'€™t have plans to fly to Miami. There are certain restrictions we have to go through. Just an in-person delivery to say thanks for all they've worked for, and deservedly so for the guys who aren't in our uniform anymore." Farrell noted that Bradley Jr., who came into Thursday night hitting .400, has clearly made significant adjustments since he last played April games at Yankee Stadium. It was during the Red Sox'€™ season-opening series against New York last year that it became evident that Bradley Jr. was having a difficult time with one particular spot in the strike zone -- low and inside. "More than anything, he's understood where the strike zone ends, particularly in to him on the plate, in off the plate," Farrell said. "He's not expanded the strike zone in as much. Last year, early on in the season, he was pitched in more than he ever had in his pro career. More than anything, a normal transition the big leagues and facing big-league pitching nightly."