Stephen ‘Uncle Dirt’ Drew: ‘I would love to finish out my career here’
|10.07.13 at 12:06 am ET|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Stephen Drew has proven adept at forming his future.
As an 11-year-old, the shortstop was given the nickname “Dirt” by a Florida St. teammate of Drew’s older brother, J.D. The youngster’s initial attempt at a moniker, “Sod” (Stephen Oris Drew) was deemed unacceptable, leading to the four-letter calling card.
To this day, it has stuck. His teammates call him “Dirt.” His brother calls him “Dirt.” Even his niece and nephews call him “Uncle Dirt.”
“It’s unique, but everybody has stuck with it,” Drew said. “They loved it, so it’s always carried with me.” When asked how he felt about it, the Red Sox infielder said, “I think it’s pretty neat. If somebody calls me ‘Dirt’ I figure it’s somebody who knows me.”
Next up? Finding a landing spot for the coming years.
Drew will be eligible for free agency following this season (having signed a one-year, $9 million deal). And while it was originally thought Boston would offer nothing more than a one-year springboard to a multi-year deal somewhere else, that thinking has changed, at least for the player.
“Do I want to be back here? That would be great,” Drew said following the Red Sox workout at Tropicana Field Sunday. “I’ve enjoyed my time here. We’ll see what happens. There’s a time to talk. But looking back over the year, have I enjoyed it? Yeah. I would love to finish out my career here. We’ll see how it happens. We’ll see how the cards fall. I definitely love playing with the Red Sox and this team.”
But while many believed this to be a short stop for the 30-year-old, Drew always knew there might be a chance for an extended stay. J.D. had passed along all the good and bad that came with playing for the Red Sox during the outfielder’s five-year calling Fenway Park home, and Stephen took the information to heart.
“I knew what I was getting into when I was coming here,” he said. “I had my older brother, and I had played there in interleague. It didn’t change my perspective. I knew it was a baseball town and a fun place to play. The only difference is the media is bigger. The market is bigger. I’m OK with that because I’m a low-key guy. I don’t ever want to change. I just try and be the same guy, go out and play every day and play as hard as I can.”
Drew has certainly found his niche on this Red Sox team, turning the best OPS of any major league shortstop for the regular season’s final two months.
And there is a scenario that could keep Drew around past this season, with the Sox choosing to move Xander Bogaerts to third base while shifting over Will Middlebrooks to first base.
There is also the possibility that the Sox might offer Drew a qualifying offer (figured to be around $14 million), undoubtedly thinning out his market and making an agreement to the one-year deal more appetizing.
What Drew does know is that he has exhibited an ability to not only play in Boston, but succeed in the city.
Yes, there have been the issues regarding hitting left-handers (totaling a .196 vs. southpaws). But that hasn’t deterred Sox manager John Farrell from sticking with his shortstop, a vote of confidence that has most recently resulted in his first four-game hit streak against lefties this season.
“If there is an underappreciation, it’s probably outside of our clubhouse,” Farrell said. “He’s a very good player. He’s a very should defender, an above-average defender. We know that there’s been struggles against some left-handed pitching in the past, but [Saturday night] him starting against David Price was not even – there was some consideration for [right-handed-hitting] Xander [Bogaerts], but as important as Stephen has been and as well as he’s played, that was a clear decision.”
“The main thing is the 25 guys in this clubhouse, they know and that’s all that matters to me,” said Drew regarding his ability to anchor the shortstop position. “As long as these guys know, they see my preparation and that’s all I can ask.
“This has been the best team I’ve been on. It’s been a lot of fun to be a part of. It’s fun taking the field.”
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