By Sean McAdam
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- J.D. Drew, one of the last position players to arrive in camp this week, said his strained hamstring is improving all the time and shouldn't limit him much in camp.
"It's much better over the last couple of weeks,'' said Drew. "Hopefully, no issues there and we can go through camp with no problem. It was a long process for the off-season, trying to get that thing better. But it seems to have finally turned the corner.
"We've tried a bunch of different stuff, but I think we'll straighten in out with stretching and stuff like that. I hadn't had any problems with it before until the second half (of last season). Hopefully, that's an issue we don't have to deal with a whole lot down here.
"It's going to be a thing where I kind of take it step-by-step as spring opens up and things get rolling. But for the most part, right now it feels pretty good.''
While Drew may ease into activity to avoid aggravating the hamstring, he plans no major changes in his preparation.
"I think it's always the same old thing -- just trying to fine-tune, get your legs up underneath you and make sure everything is ready to go for April. I had a nice off-season routine going, good workouts. I'm excited to be in camp and ready to go.''
Drew rejoins a restocked roster and overhauled outfield that has new teammate Carl Crawford in left, Jacoby Ellsbury back in center and Mike Cameron relegated to the bench.
But Drew thinks Cameron will still contribute.
"Cam's going to play his usual out there,'' Drew said. "(His) ability to play all over is going to be huge. (Rest) is something every guy is going to need from time to time and for him to fill in for Ellsy or Crawford or me. Tito's been real good with that in the past, finding days when we need them. I'm sure he'll continue to do that.''
While some players set statistical goals befoe each season, Drew takes a more general approach.
"My thing is at-bats, quality at-bats every time I step on the field,'' he said. "If I can control that and do that every time I step on the field, things will be fine.''
He had no explanation for why he struggled so much against lefthanded pitching last season, hitting just .208
"No reason at all,'' he said with a shrug. "I don't have any answers on that one.''
Drew's five-year, 70 million contract expires after this season, but there's no reason to put any added pressure on himself to perform in a walk year.
"Every year is a big year,'' Drew said. "I think you want to go in there and give yourself the best chance to have a great year and help your team. So that's my goal.''
At the start of last season, Drew said he might retire at the end of this year, but he's made no further plans.
"I haven't thought a lot about it,'' he said. "Me and my wife have talked a little bit. More than anything, the (focus) this off season was to get myself healthy and get ready for this season. As the year unfolds, we'll have some more (talk).''