Drew plays full game at shortstop for Pawtucket
Veteran goes 0-for-4, handles three chances in field without issue
PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- For nearly seven months, Stephen Drew was a player without a team.
Drew's status changed dramatically when the Red Sox called on their former shortstop to help shore up their infield defense.
"It was either Boston or someone was going to pick me up in June," Drew said Thursday night after the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox lost, 6-3, to the Gwinnett Braves. "To be in a clubhouse with the guys, it's good to see their faces again.
"It's a new year and I'm looking to get my body in shape to play nine innings."
Drew, who played in his second game with Pawtucket after three games with Class A Greenville, signed a one-year contract for $10.1 million. And as an indication that his body is in shape, Drew played the full nine innings instead of being the designated hitter, which was the original plan.
"It was a matter of seeing how my body felt the next day," Drew said. "I felt fine to go out and play nine innings. That was the reason for the change."
After going 1-for-3 with two strikeouts on Wednesday, he followed that up by going 0-for 4 on Thursday.
Drew faced Gwinnett right-hander Zach Stewart and grounded out to second in the first. But in the fourth, Drew ripped a sinking liner to left and was robbed of a hit when Jose Constanza made a diving catch.
Mike McCoy was on first with two outs in the sixth when manager Kevin Boles called for a hit-and-run. But Drew popped out on a 2-0 pitch.
Pawtucket scored three runs in the eighth when Drew came up with Garin Cecchini on second and with a chance to extend the rally. But lefty Paul Severino struck Drew out swinging on a 93 mph fastball.
Even though he finished 1-for-7 in his two games against Gwinnett, Drew felt he was prepared for what essentially amounted to a rehab assignment.
"I felt good," Drew said. "I prepared for a quick turnaround going into this offseason. Basically, I knew that was going to come about when I didn't sign to start with.
"I worked really hard. There isn't a replica of coming out and playing games. Tonight was a good test and everything went well."
Everything definitely went well in the field because Drew handled three chances flawlessly, including starting a 6-4-3 double play in the eighth.
A year ago, Drew ranked second among American League shortstops with a .984 fielding percentage as he was charged with only eight errors in 124 games.
Boles was particularly impressed with the way Drew fielded his position, given the amount of time he was away from the game.
"He made a nice play up the middle where he ranged to his glove side and started a double play," Boles said.
Boston's initial plan was for Drew to get at least 25 at-bats. But since he's only had a total of 15 between Greenville and Pawtucket, the question is: Will he accompany the PawSox when they fly to Norfolk on Friday to start a four-game series?
"I don't know yet," Drew said. "I'll have to wait and see and take it from there."
Because Drew didn't clear waivers until May 23, Major League Baseball option rules stipulate that he will have to spend at least 10 days in the Minor Leagues before he can be activated by the Red Sox. As a result, the earliest he could play for Boston would be June 2.
When Drew is activated, Boston will have to make a corresponding roster move because he isn't on the team's 40-man roster.