Even though its taken him 52 games as a Yankee, Stephen Drew finally became an offensive threat this past Monday night, as he propelled the New York Yankees past the Baltimore Orioles. He came in as a pinch- hitter for Brett Gardner in the 7th inning, who had been hit in the wrist in the first inning. On a 3-2 fastball from Tommy Hunter, Drew hit the first pinch-hit grand slam in Yankees history since Jorge Posada pulled it off on June 6, 2001.
“It’s one of those things where I feel a little more comfortable, trying not to do too much, trying not to put too much pressure on myself,” Drew said. “I know what kind of player I am, and I’ve done it for a long time, so in regards to that, it definitely helped with the at-bats in Spring Training and taking it into the season.”
Gardner, who’s been hit twice in the wrist since the beginning of the season told New York Yankees skipper Joe Girardi that if his position came up with players on base, he may not be the best man to drive them in.
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Girardi, who has liked what he has seen so far from Drew, dropped him into the game even though he had Chase Headley and Brian McCann at his disposal. “I know he’s capable of hitting the ball out of the ballpark, I’ve seen him do it a number of times,” Girardi said. “He put a great at-bat on Hunter. He got to the count he wanted, he got a fastball, and he hit it out.”
The Yankees clubhouse is filled with more than one player trying to prove himself this season. On the team there are at least five starters looking to redeem or prove themselves to the Yankees brass and themselves, including Masahiro Tanaka, C.C. Sabathia, Brian McCann and the inescapable Alex Rodriguez. That being said, none of them come close to mirroring the agonizing path traversed by Drew.
While most players in the Yankees have enjoyed varying degrees of success during their careers, Drew has lived on opposite sides of the spectrum. He started his professional baseball career being drafted in the first round of the 2004 amateur draft. During his debut season in 2006, he played in 59 games, batted .316/.357/.517 for the Arizona Diamondbacks. However, since then, everything has been downhill for him.
How low? Last season, in 85 games, he batted .150/.219/.271 for the Boston Red Sox and the Yankees. Heck, he began 2014 without a professional contract and did his ‘spring training’ at home. He was actually signed by the Red Sox in June and traded to the Yankees on July 31st. To make matters worse, he hadn’t attended a complete spring training before this season since at least 2011.