Better late than never: Drew hits first homer

Better late than never: Drew hits first homer
July 5, 2014, 6:00 pm
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BOSTON - Going into Saturday afternoon's game against the Baltimore Orioles, Stephen Drew had been without a home run since Game 6 of the 2013 World Series.

His solo shot in Game 6 gave the Sox a 4-0 lead over the Cardinals, and 15 outs later they'd become World Series Champions, winning 6-1.

Those were the days.

Now, the Sox can barely get out of their own way. On Saturday though, they did - and so did Drew. He hit his first home run of the season, giving the Sox a 1-0 lead in the 2nd inning off starter Miguel Gonzalez. They would go on to win the game in walk-off fashion, 3-2, in the 9th on Jonathan Herrera's single that scored Jonny Gomes (who pinch-hit for Drew to start the 9th).

The homer was a breath of fresh air for Drew, who has struggled since being signed by the Red Sox on May 21. All in all, Drew is hitting a measly .145 with three RBI this season for Boston. He has reached base in four of his last six games, but over that span is just 4-for-20. Prior to those last six games, he was in a 0-for-29 slump.

As it turns out, jumping on a Major League squad mid-season without any spring training isn't so easy. Drew is no stranger to criticism though, and is handling it as he has in the past.

"[Criticism] is always here, you know? I mean in the game," Drew said. "It's something I've dealt with the whole career. Everybody deals with it. I know my talent. I knew it was going to be tough coming in the way I started. I'm gonna keep my head high and it's gonna come around. All these guys in here, they know as well. What matters most is 25 guys in here and trying to win games like we did today.

"I'm getting more adjusted, you know? Not having spring training or nothing like that, it's a lot different. Getting more comfortable every day and starting to put some good ABs together."

Drew is now up to 69 at-bats this season. According to Jonny Gomes, that's around the number they get in spring training. For that reason, Gomes is willing to brush aside Drew's numbers this season and look at them from this point forward. Let him explain:

"I told [Drew] the other day," Gomes said, "I'm like listen: We get about 65-80 at-bats in spring. Once you get to about the 70 mark, at that mark I'm gonna go ahead and clean your slate personally. We're gonna look up on the board and you're gonna see zeroes. That's the fair crack. It truly is. Everything that happened early on, it is what it is, whatever. At the same time, you gotta grant him those 70 at-bats that we all had down in Fort Myers. He understands that. At the same time, in between the lines, we don't have much time for anyone else getting ready. But it's a little different deal with him and it's our job to pick him up offensively. Seventy at-bats, 500 at-bats, that glove plays that he's got. He's maybe not driving in as many as he wants, but he's keeping runs from touching the dish and that's 100-percent fact."

The decision to sign Drew wasn't an easy one for Sox GM Ben Cherington (clearly…), and it remains to be seen if it was the right one - although so far it's hard to defend it. The move pushed Xander Bogaerts to third base where he'd rather not play over shortstop. It may also be a contributing factor into Bogaerts' own slump, although he won't admit as much.

Drew was signed to help stabilize a struggling offense - and defense. He has yet to do that from the plate, and time is ticking on the Sox. The home run is at least a sign of life and something he can perhaps build off of.

"He played great. Great defense. Great homer," David Ross said. "That's kind of the way this team is. You saw phenomenal defense from him. Great power, crushed that ball. I told him he was going to get some good pitches now that I was hitting behind him."

Drew isn't surprised that he had some issues out of the gates, and remains confident there will be more swings like the one in the 2nd inning on Saturday.

"I knew. This is the big leagues," Drew said. "Best in the business. I knew, like I told you guys before. I knew it was going to be a little different. Not being in this position before, not making excuses. It just takes a little time. It's gonna come around."

As July begins, Drew's spring training is over. But can the same already be said for the Red Sox season?