J.D. Drew has played in 583 out of his teams' last 700 games. In 2009, he played the fourth-most games among Red Sox position players with 137, and this year, he's played in all but three games while the rest of the outfield has been decimated by injuries.
Yet ask many fans what they think about Drew, and they'll tell you he's soft, that he invents injuries and that he can't play through any pain.
That's the thing about fans' perceptions — they don't always have logical support. Fifty-three games into the 2010 season, Jacoby Ellsbury is finding that out the hard way.
The 26-year-old outfielder played in 153 games last year, stealing a team-record 70 bases and threw his body around the outfield with reckless abandon. This year, he's played in just nine total games, thanks to the four broken ribs he suffered in a collision with Adrian Beltre on April 11. Ellsbury tried to come back, but could not play with the pain. Rather than receiving some praise for giving it a go, Ellsbury's been given some flak from fans who now question his toughness.
"I think this year is a prime example," he told the Boston Herald in describing his toughness. "I didn't do this to myself. I didn't tweak something and sit out. I got hurt going all-out, 100 percent for a ball. I tried to come back when I knew I wasn't 100 percent. That's all I can say. Everybody knows how I play. Everyone knows I want to be out there. You can't control everybody and what they think. My teammates know. The fans have been great. That's all that matters."
Unfortunately for Ellsbury, he won't have a chance to silence any critics for a while. He was placed on the disabled list last Friday for the second time this season, and the Red Sox are still trying to figure out exactly what is wrong with him. Yet based on his words of determination to get back on the field, and with the added motivation of playing for millions of dollars (he's arbitration-eligible at the end of the year) for the first time in his life, it's hard to imagine that anything short of severe pain would be keeping Ellsbury off the field.
Then again, facts don't always play a major role in the development of opinions.