Stephen Drew Overcoming Early, Unfair Criticism to Become Threat at Bottom of Red Sox’ Order

Stephen DrewThe tune is suddenly changing in Boston.

Stephen Drew started off his Red Sox career in a difficult spot, and it only got worse as he struggled out of the gate. Now, Drew is becoming a consistent threat at the bottom of the Boston order, and it’s becoming increasingly easier to justify the Red Sox signing the veteran shortstop during the offseason.

Drew hit a grand slam and reached base safely three times as part of his 2-for-3 effort in the Red Sox’ 9-2 win on Wednesday. His average for the month of May is up to .348, and his season average is now .245, which is a far cry from where it was before the calendar flipped.

Drew hit just .154 (8-for-52) in the opening month after starting the season on the disabled list because of a concussion. The shortstop already felt the heat for a variety of reasons, and the temperature continued to rise with each failed at-bat.

Manager John Farrell and the rest of the Red Sox organization kept pointing to the missed time while defending Drew. Farrell and others claimed that Drew was still trying to find his rhythm at the plate because he didn’t have the same number of at-bats as many of the team’s other players. That logic made sense, but it also created some debate as to why the Red Sox didn’t extend Drew’s rehab assignment a little bit longer.

Even before the early-season struggles, Drew faced criticism, and it began to mount. The 30-year-old’s signing was unfairly met with skepticism because of the reputation that his brother, J.D., built throughout his own five-year stint in Boston. Then, Drew was quickly viewed as the high-priced veteran who unjustly took Jose Iglesias’ spot despite the 23-year-old’s surprisingly hot start.

Drew faced a perfect storm. But now, after Drew took on water through the first month, the storm is giving way, and it’s been smooth sailing of late. Drew’s four-hit game against the Twins on May 6 — during which he homered in the seventh inning and hit a walkoff double in the 11th — proved to be his coming-out party, but Wednesday’s effort reinforced how important he could be to the Red Sox’ offensive attack.

Drew leads the Red Sox with 12 RBIs in May, and his 18 total RBIs rank fourth on the team. He’s showing a tremendous amount of patience at the plate, which is indicated by his 14 walks, and his big hits are starting to pile up.

Numbers aside, Drew is simply making an impact. His big performance against the Twins at Fenway helped snap a three-game skid, and his big game on Wednesday helped do the same. If Drew continues to show consistency at the plate, it’ll make the Red Sox’ offense a more dynamic unit top to bottom.

For now, Drew is still trying to change the bad rap he unfairly garnered early on. A few more games like Wednesday’s will really make everyone wonder why Drew faced so much criticism in the first place.

Have a question for Ricky Doyle? Send it to him via Twitter at @TheRickyDoyle or send it here.

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