Red Sox Nation hadn’t heard much from former Boston right fielder J.D. Drew since that fateful last day of the 2011 season. Drew never officially announced his retirement from baseball, he just rode off into the sunset in the same aloof manner that marked his professional career.
Likewise, the enigmatic walk-machine hadn’t granted an interview since taking his leave from baseball, instead leaving his agent, Scott Boras, and former teammate Darnell McDonald to speak to his intentions prior to the 2012 campaign.
Well, on Wednesday Drew broke that silence, granting an interview to WEEI that covered a wide range of subjects — some of which might be very surprising to those who criticized Drew for ostensibly not playing with enough “fire.”
In short, Drew has retreated to his 12-acre farm in rural Georgia, where he apparently enjoys the simple life spending time with his wife and children, hunting, fixing things and generally staying out of the limelight. He’s also gotten heavily involved with his church, involving himself with missionary projects.
“We’re just doing the stuff at home and merge three or four houses into
one,” said Drew, shedding some light on the day-to-day life of a pro ball player. “People don’t realize there is an overabundance when you play Major League Baseball
of every single thing you own in your life, whether it’s silverware,
dishes, bath towels or bed sheets. It seems like you have triple or
quadruple of everything. Then you relocate to one spot, its
overwhelming. We’re still going through stuff we’ve collected through
However, everything Drew talked about wasn’t regarding the banality of a less-glamorous lifestyle. In fact, he says that up through the ill-fated 2011 season he still wasn’t sure what his future held. However, injuries made the decision to walk away from the grueling 162-game schedule that much more difficult.
“I really didn’t know going into that last year,” Drew said. “I really
wasn’t certain at that point and time what I was going to do. I kind of
made it up in my mind when I signed the contract with Boston … I really
wanted to go out on top last year and have a really solid season. But I
had a hiccup with my left shoulder getting ready for the season during
batting practice. I always had a loose shoulder and I just kind of
dislocated it a little bit and it never healed to the point it didn’t
hurt. It really altered the way I was able to play the game from a
Drew also broke his finger during that season, an injury which he says up until only recently prevented him from closing his fist all the way. If not for that injury, might Drew still be with the Red Sox?
“In the end, if I had been completely healthy when the season ended and
we would have made a strong run at things … things didn’t unfold that
way so there were a bunch of question marks in everybody’s mind as well
as my own going into the next season trying to negotiate with another
team and seeing where I stood physically,” said Drew. “There really wasn’t a
definitive answer there.”
However, perhaps the most interesting item to come out of Drew’s interview was just how much playing Major League Baseball stressed him out — how much he cared about the game and about winning. That’s in stark contrast to the popular perception of Drew, in which he was characterized — largely based on body language — as someone who didn’t care enough about the game, or didn’t play with enough intensity.
“I definitely didn’t miss the stress and the pressure and the sleepless
nights over whether I could hit a curveball or not, or who has the nasty
changeup tomorrow,” said Drew. “But as far as the competition goes, you’re always a
competitor, so there were things about the competition I missed.”
WEEI’s interview goes on to cover many more subjects regarding Drew’s personal and professional life. However, one thing is clear: the former right fielder is a far more complex human being than he was sometimes believed to be.