Healthy Drew 'excited' to be next shortstop for Red Sox

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Healthy Drew 'excited' to be next shortstop for Red Sox

Over the last decade or so, the Red Sox quest to find just the right shortstop has become something of their white whale. A seemingly never-ending search, with one find a temporary fix until the next. The result: Over the last 10 seasons, eight different Opening Day shortstops, with just two Marco Scutaro in 2010-2011 and Julio Lugo in 2007-08 making consecutive starts since 2003.

The Sox will extend that list as Stephen Drew will be the next Opening Day shortstop in 2013. Whether Drew, who agreed to a one-year, 9.5 million contract on Wednesday, remains so beyond that remains to be seen.

But with highly regarded prospect Xander Bogaerts along with Jose Iglesias in the organization, perhaps one year is all the Sox need.

I dont really know, Drew said on a Thursday afternoon conference call with his agent Scott Boras. Coming into this, being a free agent for the first time, just kind of didnt know where Id be at and where Id land. I think Im a good fit in Boston.

I cant really say where Im going to be at at the end of this year after Bostons seasons over. Im just going to play it by ear and see what happens. Im just really excited to be there and I know its going to be a good fit for me.

Drew, the younger brother of former Sox right fielder J.D. Drew, turns 30 in March. He was the Diamondbacks first-round (15th overall) pick in 2004 out of Florida State. Over seven major league seasons, he has posted a career .265 average, with a .328 OBP, and .433 SLG. His most productive season was arguably 2008, when hit .291 with 21 home runs, and 67 RBI in 152 games, all career highs.

But in 2012, Drew struggled in his return to the field after breaking his right ankle July 20, 2011, when he was thrown out sliding into the plate against the Brewers. He did not appear in a game again until June 27, 2011.

Last season, he appeared in a combined 79 games between Arizona and Oakland, which acquired him in a trade Aug. 20. He hit .223, with a .309 on-base percentage, and .348 slugging percentage, all career lows. In 75 games at shortstop, he posted a .972 fielding percentage, also a career low, off his .978 career average and .984 career best in 2010. Drew had a career-worst 0-for-22 streak between the Diamondbacks and As.

With the As in September, though, he hit .263, going 30-for-114, with five home runs, 14 RBI, 12 walks along with 34 strikeouts a .331 on-base percentage, and .421 slugging percentage in 29 games. In five postseason games, he hit .211.286.316 with one RBI, two walks and seven strikeouts.

Hes anxious to see what a fully healed ankle will allow him to do.

Ankles doing well, he said. In the response of doing all the rehab stuff for about a year with that bad ankle injury, its doing very well and Ive been very pleased with it. Put a lot of hard work into it. Not knowing where Id be at this past season and it coming back strong at the end of the season really gave me confidence. The ankles doing tremendous.

My overall health is fine. This past year and this year, this offseason Ive been working really hard because I know how the ankle was with that injury. Having that whole year of working out and doing the rehab stuff, my overall health is actually better than its probably every been.

Boras believes the pairing of his client and the Sox is a good one.

We really felt that that was kind of a match made for what strengths Stephen has as a hitter and what the ballpark in Boston provides, Boras said. We fully expect a very successful season and also I think its going to give the Red Sox and Red Sox fans a chance to see a player that Im not sure everyone really understands the talent level of Stephen Drew. I think after this year I think everyones going to think a lot differently about what type of player Stephen is and the impact he can have on a division-contending team.

Third baseman Adrian Beltre, another Boras client, had a one-year stint with the Sox, in 2010 a highly productive season when he lead the American League with 49 doubles, was an All-Star and won the Silver Slugger -- before leaving for the Rangers in free agency and a lucrative five-year deal. While there were other teams reportedly interested in Drew for more than one year, he preferred the one-year deal in Boston.

I think at the end of the day we kind of sat down and said what teams need a shortstop and whos playing second and like the field, which thats going to benefit me, Drew said. And I think Boston was the best fit for us.

Its going to be fun playing with Dustin Pedroia. I played against him but actually to play with a good second basemans going to be a really good opportunity for me.

The last 18 months since the injury was kind of crazy Drew said. Going through a long rehab after a debilitating injury was tough on him and his family. Getting traded for the first time in his career and transitioning to a new team were adjustments.

Drew also took some heat in Arizona -- including from Diamondbacks president Ken Kendrick -- for the length of his rehab. Some thought Drew should have returned much sooner. It was not unlike some heat that older brother J.D. occasionally took in Boston for playing with what was perceived to be a lack of intensity or urgency.

That did not factor into the younger brothers decision to join the Sox.

No, I dont think its a concern, he said. I think I understand Boston. The teams been around a long time and their fans are really passionate. They have a right to be. As players going through hard times, its not that easy. I think every player wants to do good. Thats just part of your business, part of the job. You go out and play and prepare hard every day and just leave it out there on the field. That's all you can do. At the end of the day, you go home and think about things and go back and try to fix it. As players you kind of got to adapt or adjust just like you do in the middle of an at-bat to what pitchers are doing. Theres always game adjustments, just like when theres hard times.

There was actually a positive from the injury, though, Boras said.

Stephens actually come through this with greater defensive acumen as far as range after the ankle injury than before because of the fact that he has worked so diligently and hard on his conditioning and on his lateral movement in preparing to come back and play, Boras said. But keep in mind this player has come back and played a full near third of the season in advance of him coming in. So as far as the ankle injury thats something I think is well behind us and we have a very healthy player coming to Boston to play every day.

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

BOSTON – The Bruins simply weren’t ready to play on Thursday night when the puck was dropped against the Colorado Avalanche at TD Garden. 

They fell down quickly by a 2-0 score, had a couple of completely inept power plays in the first period that sucked all the game’s momentum away from them and received some subpar goaltending from Anton Khudobin on the way to a 4-2 loss to the lowly Avs. About the only B’s person above reproach in this one was David Pastrnak after scoring a pair of goals in the second period to get Boston back into the game, but it all fell short in a very frustrating, lackadaisical loss to a Western Conference team that isn’t very good. 

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Needless to say B’s coach Claude Julien wasn’t too happy after a loss where the Bruins might have had more success with a smarter approach to holding the puck. 

“There were a lot of problematic things [in the loss]. No doubt that the power play could have helped us in the first period, and failed to do that. They’ve got to be better,” said Julien. “We needed some saves tonight, and we didn’t get them. [Anton Khudobin] has got to be better. 

“A lot of things here that we can be better at, and take responsibility [for]. But at the same time, you got to move on here.  It’s one of those nights that had we been smarter from the get go, we would have had a chance.”

Clearly it was about a lacking group effort when dissecting the loss, and the minus-3 for David Krejci on Thursday night marked back-to-back negative performances from the playmaking Czech center in big spots. The goaltending was shoddy with Anton Khudobin allowing four goals on 22 shots for Colorado, and unable to make plays on a couple of Colorado shots from outside the painted area that built up the Avs lead in the first place. 

But it was also very much about the inability of the Bruins to generate consistent offense outside of David Pastrnak’s offensive burst in the second period, and the complete breakdown of the Boston power play in the opening 20 minutes. The Bruins struggled to enter the zone in their first PP possession of the game, and then allowed a Nathan MacKinnon shorthanded goal after Torey Krug futilely dove at the blue line to try and keep the puck in the offensive zone. 

The Krug misplay at the offensive blue line gave MacKinnon a clear path the net, and he buried a wrist shot past Khudobin to get the one-sided loss rolling. Beyond the costly mistakes that ended up in the back of the net, the Bruins looked sloppy and slow-reacting in their breakouts and more than willing to settle for outside perimeter shots.

That doesn’t exactly make for a winning combo even when it comes against a flawed, underachieving team like Colorado, and especially when it comes less than 24 hours after a hard-fought road game in Washington DC. 

“I think we were still sleeping there early in the game and they were able to capitalize on their opportunities. We couldn’t claw our way back,” said Brad Marchand, who picked up an assist on David Pastrnak’s second goal of the night on a perfect dish for the one-timer. “I think it was definitely a mental [block]. You’re able to battle through that physical fatigue. It was more the mental mistakes and not being prepared right off the hop of the start of the game. Again, that’s kind of where we lost it.”

The sleepwalking Bruins lost Thursday night’s valuable two points as soon as the opening puck was dropped against the Avalanche, of course, and the Bruins never got out of lollygag mode at a time when intensity should have been automatic. 

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Chiefs hold off Raiders 21-13 to take control of AFC West

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THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Chiefs hold off Raiders 21-13 to take control of AFC West

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Tyreek Hill had touchdowns receiving and on a punt return, Kansas City's defense made life miserable for Oakland quarterback Derek Carr, and the Chiefs beat the Raiders 21-13 on a frigid Thursday night to take control of the AFC West.

Charcandrick West also had a touchdown run for the Chiefs (10-3). They moved into a first-place tie with Oakland (10-3) but holds the tiebreaker with two wins over their longtime divisional rival.

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