Stephen Drew has heads up on Sox thanks to brother

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Stephen Drew has heads up on Sox thanks to brother

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."

Friday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups: Porcello goes for win No. 23

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Friday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups: Porcello goes for win No. 23

The A.L. East-champion Red Sox, still fighting for playoff position, field their usual lineup as they open David Ortiz's final regular-season series tonight (7:10) against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox (92-67) are two games behind the Texas Rangers (94-65) in the race for the best record in the A.L., with the Cleveland Indians (91-67) a half-game behind Boston.

Rick Porcello (22-4, 3.11 ERA), the likely Game 1 starter in the ALDS, will try to add to his Cy Young Award resume tonight. He’ll be opposed by right-hander Marco Estrada (9-9, 3.53).

The Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles (both 87-72) are tied for the A.L. wild-card lead with the Detroit Tigers (85-73) 1 1/2 games back.

It’s the final regular season series for Oritz, with ceremonies planned to honor the retiring Red Sox DH prior to each of the final three game this weekend. 

The lineups:

RED SOX

Dustin Pedroia 2B

Brock Holt 3B

Mookie Betts RF

David Ortiz DH

Hanely Ramirez 1B

Xander Bogaerts SS

Jackie Bradley CF

Sandy Leon C

Andrew Benintendi LF

Rick Porcello P

 

BLUE JAYS

Eziquiel Carrera LF

Josh Donaldson 3B

Edwin Encarnacion DH

Jose Bautista RF

Russell Martin C

Troy Tulowitzki SS

Justin Smoak 1B

Kevin Pillar CF

Devon Travis 2B

Marco Estrada RHP