John Farrell on Stephen Drew: ‘We’ve added a very good player’
|05.20.14 at 5:57 pm ET|
For the first month and a half of the season, Stephen Drew has been without a home ballpark. In the absence of Drew manning shortstop, the left side of the Red Sox infield has been mercurial through the first month and a half of the season. The agreement to a one-year major league deal for a prorated portion of the $14 million qualifying offer (first reported by Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com via twitter and subsequently confirmed by WEEI.com’s Alex Speier) made sense on paper for both sides.
While the deal is still pending a physical that will be administrated on Wednesday, when Drew arrives in Boston, manager John Farrell believes that the addition of Drew improves the team now.
“We’ve added a very good player to improve this team and I think that is the one thing that [general manager] Ben [Cherington] and ownership have repeatedly shown,” Farrell said. “When a need exists, they’ll do whatever is capable and what is available at a given time to improve the team and Stephen’s return to us could very well do that. It’ll add stability to the left side of the infield.”
Drew hit .253 with a .333 OBP, .443 slugging mark and 13 homers in 124 games with the Red Sox last year while also playing superb defense. He was particularly impactful against right-handed pitchers — a class against whom the Sox have struggled desperately to date — hitting .284 with a .377 OBP and .498 slugging mark in 334 plate appearances.
Before making his return to the Red Sox, Drew will need a minor league stint to get back into the routine of playing baseball everyday. The 31-year-old will get around 25 at-bats in the minor leagues, meaning he will spend around 10-12 days working back to major league readiness.
With third baseman Will Middlebrooks on the DL with a broken finger, Cherington felt the need to improve the left side of the infield.
“I think it’s been known what his teammates have always thought of him and what we’ve thought of him,” Farrell said. “This was about Ben having a full understanding of where our needs exist and how do we improve upon it and Stephen is a guy that is available to do that so I can’t say that there was a greater amount of push following Will’s injury or how things have transpired over the first 33 games,” said Farrell. “We had a need and [Ben] went out and filled it.”
Farrell suggested that Xander Bogaerts will likely be the Sox’ primary third baseman on days when Drew starts, while continuing to get starts at shortstops against left-handed starters. However, Farrell also suggested that his thoughts on the division of labor on the left side of the infield remained in the earliest stages while Middlebrooks awaits a re-examination of his finger.
Outfielder Shane Victorino believes that the same attributes that made Drew an important contributor to last season’s championship will also make the shortstop an important contributor moving forward for a team that has struggled to a 20-23 start.
“A guy who has been here before, a guy who was part of the championship team, it’s very important,” Victorino said. “Is he going to be the answer? I won’t sit there and say that’s the reason we’re going to be that much better but I think it’s a positive thing to have Stephen back and have him as part of this team. He was a big character guy and big part of the defensive aspect, the way we play the game and he’s a great offensive player.”
While Drew will play a big role for the team moving forward, both David Ortiz and Victorino believe it is important to not put excessive pressure on the shortstop.
“I don’t think that’s fair,” Ortiz said. “You just make sure he comes in and does exactly what he did last year. It caught me off guard, getting to know this news, but I think the front office has a better idea of things that they want to do and now with Will going to the DL, it’ll be a good situation.”
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