EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 21, 2013

Back from DL, Drew's leash should be short

Sox shortstop needs to prove his worth soon

On Pro Baseball
Christopher Smith

---- — BOSTON — Asked whether the Michael Young-to-Boston trade rumor had put any additional pressure on him to perform well coming off the disabled list, Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew didn’t seem too concerned.

“To be honest, I haven’t thought one thing about it,” Drew told The Eagle-Tribune. “I’m with this team. And I feel like when I am helping out on defense and stuff, I feel like we’re a better defensive team.”

Drew has been excellent in the field. He entered yesterday leading qualified AL shortstops with a .989 fielding percentage (just three errors in 279 chances).

But Drew wasn’t brought here only to play defense. If all the Red Sox were looking for in a shortstop was league-leading defense they would have stuck with Jose Iglesias instead of signing Drew.

Drew returned to Boston’s lineup yesterday after being on the DL since July 5 (retroactive to June 29) with a right hamstring strain. He went 0 for 2 with a walk and strikeout. The Red Sox lost 5-2 to the New York Yankees here at Fenway Park.

Drew’s leash should be short.

Give him to Aug. 5 to show he deserves to be the starting shortstop. If he continues to provide the same lack of offense he has all year, then promote exciting prospect Xander Bogaerts and give the 20-year-old the chance to start at third base while moving Iglesias to shortstop.

If Bogaerts isn’t ready for the majors, then at least the Red Sox gave strengthening the offense a shot.

Two reasons Boston was unable to score a single run off Yankees tough right-hander Hiroki Kuroda in the first six innings yesterday: 1.) Poor base running; 2). Drew’s soft groundout to first base with one out and runners on first and second base in the fifth.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the batter before Drew, is actually more deserving of blame for striking out. With no outs, Saltalamacchia needed to move the runners to second and third.

But the bottom line is that Drew was signed to provide this team some solid offense and power. He needs to spark the bottom of the lineup but he hasn’t done so consistently.

About the Red Sox’ inability to score in the fifth, Drew said: “Just today didn’t work out. I felt like this team has done a good job overall this whole year of moving guys and getting the job done.”

Drew entered yesterday with a .203 batting average and .254 on-base percentage with men in scoring position. He has .182 average in late-and-close situations.

The Red Sox’ reported interest in Young, an All-Star third baseman, is very telling. The Phillies are no longer looking to move Young since they believe they are still in the NL East race, according CBSSports.com.

But the interest showed that Boston is not only looking for a right-handed hitter but may feel an improvement over Drew is needed.

“I felt good today,” Drew said when asked about his hamstring. “Just come in tomorrow and see how it feels and go from there.

“I wish I had some different outcomes (with at-bats),” he added. “My last at-bat ... drew a walk. I wish that one ball would have stayed fair and kind of tied it up. That’s just how it went.”