BOSTON — The Red Sox could begin next week with shortstop Stephen Drew.
Drew is expected to join the Red Sox on Monday in Cleveland before the club opens a three-game series against the Indians, according to manager John Farrell. The plan is for Drew to play nine innings at shortstop with Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday and Sunday.
The news isn’t much of a surprise. Monday has been considered a potential return date since Drew signed with Boston on May 21, and the Red Sox are scheduled to face two right-handers — Justin Masterson and Corey Kluber — in their three games against the Tribe next week.
Farrell said before Friday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park that he expects there to be an adjustment period when Drew first returns to major league action, although it’s possible the 31-year-old will garner plenty of playing time right out of the chute.
“My personal description of Stephen (is) he’s a rhythm type of hitter, and timing and playing every day is key to that, to maintain it and to hone it,” Farrell said. “We’re not at any point to rush to any evaluation that’s going to be a determining factor on whether he’s activated Monday or later on. We know this is going to be a process for a while and are fully accepting of that.”
Drew has played five games — two with Pawtucket and three with Single-A Greenville — thus far in his minor league assignment. He’s hitting .267 (4-for-15) with two doubles, two RBIs, one walk and one run. Drew has struck out seven times in 16 plate appearances.
“By his own design, he wanted to see as many pitches as possible, knowing that there was going to be an abbreviated number of at-bats,” said Farrell, referencing a conversation he had with Drew following the shortstop’s stint at Greenville. “He just wanted to track the ball as much as possible. Still, we know this is a bottom line game. But we’re trusting the fact that this is a veteran player getting back into shape.”
Xander Bogaerts is expected to shift to third base when Drew returns. It’s unclear at this point who will be sent down to make room for Drew, although Brock Holt’s strong play suggests infielder Jonathan Herrera could be a candidate.