John Farrell on Stephen Drew: ‘I’m hopeful he’s back’
|11.06.13 at 3:47 pm ET|
Red Sox manager John Farrell, in an interview on WEEI’s Salk & Holley show, said that he believes that the Red Sox would be well served to bring back shortstop Stephen Drew in order to preserve the sort of depth on the left side of the infield that proved so beneficial to the team in 2013. Drew, who received a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Red Sox on Monday, hit .253 with a .333 OBP, .443 slugging mark and 13 homers in 124 regular season games.
While Farrell acknowledged Drew’s postseason struggles, he also made clear that he continues to maintain a very high opinion of the 30-year-old, and his potential value to the club going forward.
“Our approach towards our team is always going to be one to build the greatest depth, not only to the 25-man roster but guys below that. Stephen Drew is a very good shortstop. I know there will be people who say what’s the infatuation with him based on the postseason performance. But he’s a darn good shortstop. He had a very strong year for us. He’s a left-handed hitter. Otherwise, we would have an entire right-handed hitting infield, which creates further balance in the lineup going forward,” said Farrell. “I can’t sit here today and say that he’s going to be back here. Personally, I’m hopeful he’s back. It buys us some time, whether [Xander Bogaerts] is the guy going forward next year at shortstop or if he’s at third base.”
The suggestion that Bogaerts might play third if Drew returns has obvious implications for Will Middlebrooks. But Farrell said that he envisioned the Sox being in a stronger position if they once again had Drew, Bogaerts and Middlebrooks.
“Will Middlebrooks, we recognize the up-and-down year that he had. But it’s also a guy that, 27, 28 home runs combined [in two partial big league seasons],” said Farrell. “There’s a little bit of swing and miss there. His offensive profile may be a little bit different than some of our other guys. But still, we’re always going to side on the ability to build as deep a roster as possible. If that creates a little redundancy, at least in the short-term, we’re more than accepting of that.
“The depth of our roster this year allowed us to overcome some of those injuries, whether it was with Shane Victorino in the outfield or with Stephen Drew because of the concussion and the hamstring issue. You can never have a deep-enough club,” he continued. “I would hope that we’d be able to bring all four of the [team's primary free agents (Drew, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Mike Napoli and Jacoby Ellsbury)] back, but that’s probably unlikely because of free agency and the way that salaries will escalate.”
While Farrell said he wasn’t certain if Drew received new corrective contact lenses prior to Game 6 of the World Series — in which he had two hits including a homer after a historically tough go of the postseason to that point — he did acknowledge that the shortstop checked in with an eye specialist.
“Whether that [resulted in] two base hits and a home run in Game 6, good on him,” said Farrell.
Farrell said that he had a late-night conversation with Drew in St. Louis after Game 3 of the World Series to reaffirm the team’s commitment to the shortstop even amidst his offensive struggles.
“We were facing all right-handed starters in the last two series, so it was very clear that he was going to get every start at the position,” said Farrell. “I felt like it was just a matter of time. Certainly it became a confidence thing, there’s no doubt. We had a conversation late night after Game 3 in St. Louis. I was at the hotel, I called him late and we just talked through some things. I just wanted to make sure that because of all the groundswell to maybe remove him off of shortstop, I just wanted to let him know that he was going to be at that position all the way through. I was just trying to do something to ease his mind. It didn’t turn into instant hits or production at the plate but man oh man, did he play some kind of defense at shortstop and solidify the infield.”
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