BALTIMORE -- As Stephen Drew sat for the fourth time in eight games since joining the Red Sox, general manager Ben Cherington defended signing the shortstop to a pro-rated $14.1 million deal last month.
Drew was held out of the lineup twice in the first four games, then missed Monday and Tuesday because of a strained right oblique, suffered Sunday night in Detroit.
"He's only played four games,'' said Cherington. "It seems pretty early to make a judgment on that one. You all know Stephen Drew -- he's a really good major league player. We all know how good he is. We knew that he's stepping back on a major league stage, seeing major league pitching. Nobody would have been surprised that he took a little while to get his timing back and get comfortable.
"We signed him because we felt he would make us better over the course of the season. We still feel that way. I don't have any reason to think he won't.''
In discussing Drew's injury Monday, manager John Farrell hinted that it may have been a condition of the negotiations with agent Scott Boras that Drew be added to the major league roster as soon as his 10-day option in the minor leagues passed.
It's been speculated that perhaps Drew suffered the oblique pull because he didn't have enough time to get ready before joining the Sox after seven games in the minors, covering just 21 at-bats.
"I don't want to get into specifics of our discussions before signing him,'' said Cherington. "But we definitely felt like, given where he was physically at the time of the signing, that it wouldn't take him a long time in the minor leagues to be able to help our team.
"There's a difference between at maximum capacity and full speed and perfect timing and being able to help a major league team. We felt like Stephen Drew made us a more complete roster even if he was still working on some things. So we signed him with the understanding that, as soon as he physically check out, he'd be on the team as soon as we could (do it). That's the way it turned out and we don't have any regrets with that.
"We also knew that we might have to manage his playing time early on. So it's not unexpected that he's getting a day here and there. But all the reasons we signed him are still in place.''
Cherington also laughed off a suggestion, made by Peter Gammons, that Drew was signed as a result of the media pressuring the Sox to make a move.
"False,'' said Cherington. "I was really surprised to see that. We know Stephen Drew really well. we signed Stephen Drew because I make a recommendation to ownership to sign Stephen Drew. We'd been talking internally for a little while and then our third baseman (Will Middlebrooks) got hurt and it looked like Will might miss some significant amount of time.
"We had known that if there was an area on the team that we were looking to add some depth to, it was the left side of the infield. It wasn't a reflection on any of the players we have. We want as many good players as we can get for each spot. It happened to be that Will got hurt, Stephen was still out there. We felt like if we didn't sign him, we might be putting ourselves in a position where we'd have to make a trade at some point -- give up talent to address a potential area of need.
"So we have a guy who we trust, who we like, who's a good player, a trusted player, he's been here, done that, he's available to sign without giving up talent. So we did it.''