BOSTON -- Former Red Sox outfielder J.D. Drew, who retired after the 2011 season, looks at his younger brother, Stephen, as his own man.
Stephen, a shortstop who's 7 1/2 years J.D.'s junior at 29, agreed to a one-year deal with the Red Sox on Monday. The team has not confirmed the signing.
Stephen broke his right ankle in July 2011 sliding into home, and that kept his plate appearances below 400 the past two seasons. Before that, Stephen reached 150 games played in three of four years.
"My only thought for Stephen is he is his own player and his own person," J.D. said on Monday. "What aggravates me is that he's been kind of lumped into an injury-prone kind of deal. Stephen's never been injury-prone. This guy has played 150 games a year for most of his career until he breaks his leg in half. And then, of course, you can't do anything in the middle of the season. You play 70 or 80 games, you have a broken leg, of course you're going to miss most of the next year trying to come back from it."
"'Oh, he's as brittle as J.D.,' No that's crazy," J.D. continued. "I think he's going to come back with a really nice season, and you got to understand what made me more frustrated was Arizona throwing him under the bus like he hadn't given them anything over a four- or five-year career."
Stephen's only played for two professional teams: the D-backs, who drafted him in 2004 in the first round, and the A's, to whom he was traded in August. Neither of those clubs are of the large-market variety, and playing in a big city is something J.D. thinks will only help Stephen.
J.D. went through the good and bad times in Boston, winning a World Series in 2007 and watching as the team fell apart in 2011.
"Stephen, he can iron that stuff out, and I think it'll probably motivate him a little bit more than playing in a small market like Arizona," J.D. said. "I was in one of those places where I played in all big markets. St. Louis is passionate. Atlanta, you don't draw a lot in Atlanta, but Atlanta's got a huge following. You ship yourself off to go play in L.A., and then you go to Boston. I played in all these big markets, and it's one of those things where there's a lot of media coverage, a lot of stuff going on, and Arizona's a little bit different. But I think it'll challenge him, maybe push him over to the next level, as far as that goes."
The subject of showing emotion has long been an issue in Boston. Adrian Gonzalez took criticism for not wearing his heart on his sleeve. J.D. the same.
J.D. thinks Stephen's more open as a player, but he still believes the guiding principles are the same: You act on the field how you want your own kids to act.
J.D. never wanted a Little Leaguer to see him throwing a helmet. J.D. was guarded with the media, too, because of his Scott Boras-led negotiations with the Phillies after being drafted that led him to playing independent ball instead of signing with Philadelphia.
"Stephen is not nearly as guarded as I am," J.D. said. "He's more of a kind of outgoing, he may even come across that way to me because, you know, reflecting a lot of what I went through when I came out of college. ... I came under a bunch of scrutiny before I even stepped into a Major League uniform and I hadn't even done anything."
J.D. doesn't think Stephen needs any pre-Boston prepping.
"You know, I put my walls up early, Stephen's going to be a little bit less guarded," J.D. said. "I think he's a real laid back personality. You're not going to see a lot of helmet-throwing, bat-slamming, unfortunately that's what seems the people in Boston like ... We treat ourselves a lot like role models. I think Stephen he's following that same thing.
"I played there for five years. I did not read an article until I left Boston."
In terms of Stephen's physical capabilities, J.D. said his brother could make the transition the outfield in right or center if given a month's time -- that's how athletic he is.
J.D. expects Stephen's presence to significantly help left fielder Jonny Gomes and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, too. Stephen's range can let the rest of the outfield play deeper, J.D. believes.
"I promise you one thing, and this'll prove what kind of outfielder [Gomes] can be," J.D. said. "When you see a ball, one of those high popups that's in front, and this will really allow your left fielder to play deeper, which might help Jonny out there with that wall. Because Stephen is so good -- even let Ellsbury take a step -- those little popups and flares, he is so good breaking back and catching balls and going back like an outfielder, it's not even funny."
Of course, the Sox signed Stephen to play short, and to that end, J.D. has always preached making the routine plays, going back to Stephen's college days.
"I always challenged Stephen, make the routine plays, make them look easy," J.D. said. "He comes up and a lot of times he's just on top of the ball. We always taught him to stand tall and throw through the ball, the ball's just got a lot carry. When he really needs it, man, it's there."
The bottom line for the older brother seeing the younger brother play for his former team?
"It'll be fun to watch," J.D. said.