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Sizemore makes first start in LF; JBJ in CF

NEW YORK -- Some quick hits from the Bronx, where Jacoby Ellsbury will be facing his roommate from Lowell Spinner days, Grady Sizemore is making his first-ever start in left field, Jackie Bradley Jr. tries to further his case that he's more than a stop-gap solution, and Ryan Roberts recalls being up close and personal to Stephen Drew's worst day in baseball.

• Sizemore, who has never played a day anywhere but in center field, draws the start in left here, with Bradley -- who was Boston's Opening Day left fielder in Yankee Stadium last season -- stationed in center.

"It's an alignment we've talked about internally," manager John Farrell said. "We felt like it was best-fitting here, with the ground covered [on the left side]. Whether or not it's something we'll do more, I'm not going to say on a permanent basis, we've shown that 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 to go at it tonight. This isn't something we're looking to pencil in every day going forward."

How often the Sox deploy that alignment could well depend on whether Bradley Jr. can sustain the level of play he has shown since an injury to Shane Victorino on the eve of the season opened a spot for the 23-year-old rookie, after he'd already been optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. Bradley takes a slash line of .400/.478/.500/.978 into Thursday night's game against the Yankees, and in his last four games, he is 6 for 12 with 2 doubles, 4 runs, 4 RBIs, and 3 walks. He also has played superbly in the outfield, while Sizemore has had recent difficulties, most notably when he broke the wrong way on a shallow fly ball that fell for a double against Felix Doubront.

There's little question that when Victorino returns, the best defensive outfield the Sox could field would have Bradley in center, flanked by Sizemore and Victorino, but that raises questions about where that leaves Daniel Nava, who is off to a slow start this season (.125/.200/.156/.356) but was one of the team's most reliable hitters last season, batting .303 with a .385 on-base percentage.

Nava, who has served as the Sox leadoff man in five of the team's nine games this season, was dropped to fifth Thursday, with Sizemore batting at the top of the order. Sizemore went 0 for 4 with a walk in his only start leading off.

Farrell said of Nava, "He's had some at-bats where he's hit into some tough luck, he's also had some at-bats where he's tried to maybe do a little too much at times, where he's lifted the ball into the air. I think we've come to know Daniel more as a line-drive hitter that has the capability to hit the ball out of the ballpark. I think more than anything, we're looking for Daniel to get on a little roll and gaining the confidence that he had last year."

Clay, meet Jacoby: Ellsbury, in a pregame media session set up in observance of his first game on the pinstriped side of this rivalry, noted he was roommates in Class A Lowell with Clay Buchholz back in 2005, when both players were drafted by the Sox, Ellsbury in the first round, Buchholz with a first-round sandwich pick. With Buchholz scheduled to start Thursday, Ellsbury said this will be the first time he has ever set foot in the batter's box against the first roomie he ever had in pro ball.

"A lot of great memories, relationships, he'll be a friend of mine for life, regardless of what jersey he has on, or I have on. You never know, these are guys you might play with down the road, too, who knows, in a couple of years? We have three guys here from last year's team (Matt Thornton, Andrew Bailey, Ellsbury). You never know who you're going to play with. But he's a guy I built a strong relationship with. Yeah, it'll be exciting to face him."

• Roberts not only was teammates with Stephen Drew in Arizona, he was the on-deck hitter who signaled for Drew to slide into the plate on the play he fractured his right ankle on July 20, 2011. "I looked at him, and his right foot was pointed this way," Roberts said. "The amazing thing is, he forced it back into place. I don't know if it was the adrenaline or what, but that's when I started signaling for help."

• Farrell said he and GM Ben Cherington, who accompanied the team on the trip here, plan to give Ellsbury and Thornton their rings on Friday.