Red Sox GM Ben Cherington: ‘Pretty Early’ To Judge Stephen Drew Signing

Stephen DrewBoston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington isn’t changing his tune.

Cherington said before Tuesday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards that he has no regrets about signing Stephen Drew despite the shortstop getting off to a rough start in his return.

“He’s only played four games. It seems pretty early to make a judgment on that one,” Cherington said. “We all know Stephen Drew is a really good major league player. We all know how good he is. We knew he was stepping back on a major league stage, seeing major league pitching and wouldn’t be a little bit surprised if it took him a little while to get the timing back and get comfortable. But we signed him because we thought it would make us better over the course of the season, and we still feel that way. I don’t have any reason to think he won’t.”

Drew is 1-for-14 with five strikeouts since returning to the Red Sox, who entered Wednesday’s contest having lost eight of their last 10 following a seven-game winning streak before the shortstop’s arrival. Compounding the issue is that Drew is sidelined with an oblique injury he suffered during Sunday’s series finale against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.

Some have questioned whether the Red Sox — who signed Drew on May 21 — activated the 31-year-old too soon following his minor league assignment. Cherington hinted there might have been an agreement between the Red Sox and Drew’s agent, Scott Boras, that the shortstop would rejoin the club immediately following his assignment, but the GM also noted that Boston anxiously awaited Drew’s return because Will Middlebrooks’ injury left the infield depleted at the time.

“We felt like Stephen Drew made us a more complete roster — a better, deeper roster, even if he was still working on some things,” Cherington said. “So we signed him with the understanding that, assuming he physically checked out, that he’d be on the team soon — as soon as we could — and that’s the way it turned out. We don’t have any regrets for that.”

Cherington denied that media reports pressured him to sign Drew or that the move was made against the wishes of the Red Sox’s front office. Cherington explained he made a recommendation that ownership was onboard with.

“It happened to be that Will got hurt, Stephen Drew was still out there, he was a free agent, and we felt like, if we didn’t sign him, we might be in position to have to make a trade at some point and give up talent to address, potentially, an area of need,” Cherington said. “So we have a guy who we trust, who we like, who’s a good player, who’s a trustworthy player, who’s been here and done that, who’s available to sign without giving talent, so we did it. I made that recommendation, and I would make that recommendation again.”

Rookie Xander Bogaerts has remained at third base even in Drew’s absence. It’s unclear when Drew will return to the Red Sox’s lineup, although manager John Farrell said a Thursday return is “a possibility.”