BOSTON – Stephen Drew is moving to Boston to restart what once looked like a promising career.
The former first-round draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks was derailed by a serious ankle injury in 2011. He was traded last season to Oakland after returning from the injury and agreed to a $9.5-million, one-year contract to pay with the Red Sox in 2013.
His older brother, J.D., played five seasons with the Red Sox and earned a World Series title with Boston in 2007.
That year, as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Stephen Drew was playing his first full season in the majors and just missed facing his brother in the World Series when the Colorado Rockies swept his team for the National League title before losing to the Red Sox.
“Playing in a big series — Boston and the Yankees — will be different,” Drew said in a conference call with the media on Thursday. “He’s talked to me about things like that. It’s a little bigger market than Arizona. The ’07 World Series, we were pretty close to playing Boston and that would have been pretty neat. It worked out the best for him and for the Red Sox.”
But the shortstop knows people will immediately make comparisons to him and his brother.
“You guys know J.D. — he’s laid back and I’m laid back, but probably a little more emotional,” he said. “At the end of the day, I’m a different person than J.D. and J.D’s a different person than me. J.D. played right field and I play shortstop. I’ve always had a little more pressure playing in the middle of the field. I don’t really throw my bat, but you guys know that. At the end of the day, J.D. and I are a little different.”
Coming back after a fractured right ankle on a collision at home plate that had him sidelined from mid-July until late June of last season, Drew hit .193 in 39 games with two homers and 12 RBI with the Diamondbacks until he was dealt to Oakland, where he played the final 40 games batting .250 with five homers and 16 RBI.
“Going through it gets kind of crazy,” he said. “I put a lot of hard work and dedication into the rehab process not knowing if I was going to ever play baseball again or not.”
Before the injury, Drew played 135 games or more in four straight years with Arizona. His best was when he hit .291 with 21 homers and 67 RBI in 2008.
Drew’s reputation took somewhat of a hit when Diamondbacks’ owner Ken Kendrick questioned the amount of time the shortstop took to get back from the injury. He also understands that he’s coming to a market where his brother was similarly criticized for taking a while to recover from his injuries.
“I understand Boston. The team’s been around a long time and the fans are kind of passionate. They have a right to be,” he said. “As players you go through hard times. You go out and play and just leave it out there on the field — that’s all you can do. At the end of the day, you go home and think about things and try to fix it.”
Drew is likely to become Boston’s 11th starting shortstop in a revolving-door position. Mike Aviles started 123 games there last season then was sent to Toronto as compensation for the Red Sox prying their new manager, John Farrell, away from the Blue Jays. Slick-fielding Jose Iglesias, 22, had been considered Boston’s shortstop of the future, but he struggled at the plate, batting .118 in 24 games last year. He may also have been moved down in the organizational depth chart by Xander Bogaerts, 20, who has played just 23 games at Double-A.
Boston started these shortstop maneuverings in 2004, when it traded Nomar Garciaparra in the middle of the season.