BOSTON — Stephen Drew’s return might not solve all of the Red Sox’s current issues. But Tuesday’s news that the shortstop has agreed to a one-year deal with Boston, pending a physical, certainly was met with optimism in the Red Sox’s clubhouse.
Drew had a solid 2013 season with the Red Sox before hitting free agency. Drew initially rejected a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer from Boston and lingered on the open market for a few months, but his teammates are welcoming him back with open arms in the wake of Tuesday’s reported deal.
“Having him onboard is absolutely a positive thing,” outfielder Shane Victorino said before Tuesday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. “We’re excited, the team’s excited, the guys are excited to have not only a good player but a character guy (who) fits into the clubhouse, is funny, outgoing, brings that life and that energy. It’s definitely going to be a positive having him back at shortstop from a pitcher’s standpoint.”
Drew’s return figures to impact the Red Sox in several ways. He’ll add some defensive stability to the left side of Boston’s infield and give the Red Sox’s offense some much-needed pop against right-handed pitching. Drew also is a known commodity who established a great relationship with several players and coaches last season, which should make for a seamless transition once the shortstop joins the mix — something that could happen in 10 to 12 days, according to manager John Farrell.
“He’s a very consistent player. He knows his role, he knows how to continue doing things over and over, which is one of the toughest parts to do at this level,” designated hitter David Ortiz said. “He did a good job for us last year winning the World Series.
“He’s got a good attitude, man. He wants to win, he wants to play well, he wants to make things happen.”
The Red Sox entered Tuesday’s game against the Blue Jays on the heels of a four-game losing streak that dropped their overall season record to 20-23. While Drew should help improve the Red Sox, particularly in their current areas of need, his teammates stressed that the entire burden can’t be placed on one guy.
“It’s hard to sit here and go, ‘OK, because we signed Stephen Drew, that’s the answer,’” Victorino said. “You don’t want to put that pressure on him, one, and two is you just hope he fits in — which he did last year — and you take it as a positive that he’s a part of this team again, and we go out there and take it one game at a time.
“You don’t want to put too much pressure on Stephen, either. You know what I’m saying,” Ortiz added. “I don’t think it’s fair. You just got to make sure he just comes in and do his stuff the way he did last year.”
Ortiz noted that Tuesday’s news caught him off-guard, but the nine-time All-Star expressed faith in general manager Ben Cherington and Co. to do what it takes to field the best team possible.
“We’ve got to get things better and start playing better,” Ortiz said, “and I think the addition of Stephen is going to help us out somehow, some way.”