Stephen Drew has heads up on Sox thanks to brother

Stephen Drew has heads up on Sox thanks to brother
February 14, 2013, 4:31 pm
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Stephen Drew is new to Boston, the latest in a long line of seemingly endless shortstops the Red Sox have employed since trading Nomar Garciaparra in 2004.

But Drew already has a connection to the franchise. The infielder, signed as a free agent over the winter, is the younger brother of former Sox outfielder J.D., who played here from 2007 through 2011.

In fact, Drew will sport No. 7, the same number worn by J.D. in his five seasons here.

"For me, it's an honor to wear the jersey of my older brother" said Drew, "kind of looking up to him. But also, I talked to him two or three days ago, I (reminded) him that this was the number I had in high school. So, when he started wearing the number (in the big leagues), I was kind of like, 'He's taking my number.' We're always making a joke about it, but respecting him and for me, wearing it in high school, I thought it would be a good number."

Stephen is nearly seven years younger than J.D., but the two share the same laconic personality and slight Georgia drawl.

"We're both low-key guys," confirmed Drew. "That's what you'll see."

Then pausing for a second and with a bit of a twinkle, Drew added: "I'm a little more feisty."

Unabashedly, Stephen "looked up to him. He was a great role model for both my brothers (brother Tim, a pitcher, also made it to the big leagues). It's just unique. We all made it here and J.D. had a great career and hopefully, at the end of my career, I can say maybe I was a little better than him."

And yes, J.D. has provided his younger brother with a scouting report on Boston.

"He knows it will be a little different than in Arizona because of the fans and the media," said Stephen. "That's not a big deal. That's something I've dealt with in my career. It's nothing new to me. He did warn me about balls coming off the Monster and how I'll have to go out for them."

But the younger Drew isn't at all intimidated by the prospect of playing in a market with more pressure and expectations.

"Being in the major leagues," he said, "you're going to deal with that every night, no matter what. It doesn't matter where you're at -- you understand the pressures of the game. For me, I focus every day on one day at a time. Every game, I come out and I'm ready to play. My preparation is always the same.

Drew has made three previous visits to Fenway as part of interleague play and has an appreciation for the ballpark.

"I've had fun there," he said. "I like Fenway. I think it's an historic park and the fans get into it. At least I'll be on the home side this time. It's exciting. It's going to be a fun year for me."

The hope is that Drew can provide some extra-base offense in the lower third of the batting order. But given his position, he understands the priorities.

"It's been defense over the years," he said. "I think it's come a long way. I feel really good in the past two or three years with my defense. That's what I take pride in. I'm kind of old school -- I like to (focus on) defense and my offense will take care of itself.

Drew will be paired with second baseman Dustin Pedroia in the middle of the infield.

"It's going to be huge," said Drew. "I got to play early on in my career with Orlando Hudson, who was a Gold Glove (second baseman). Dustin, with the way he plays and plays the game hard, it kind of reminds me of (Hudson). It's going to help me out a lot. Hopefully, we'll (work) good. I don't see that as a problem. I think we'll mesh fine."

Drew missed nearly a year following an ugly ankle injury, the result of a collision at home plate. But after missing the first half of last season recovering, he's now fully recovered.

"I feel good," he said. "It was a long process getting back. All the hard work and preparation, I hope it pays off because I really did put a lot of work into it. There are no limitations at all. It was a normal off-season."