COMMENTARY | After being cleared to play yesterday, Stephen Drew is one step closer to making his Boston Red Sox debut. He also saw his first action since suffering a concussion on March 7th, playing in an extended spring training game. Drew finished the game with a double, while playing three innings at shortstop.
Drew was expected to be the everyday shortstop this season for Boston before sustaining the concussion. The injury has given Jose Iglesias a chance to get some consistent playing time to start the season. However, Drew may be back sooner than originally expected.
Drew was placed on the special 7-day disabled list that is used strictly for players dealing with concussions. He is eligible to come off the DL today. While he did return to action yesterday, it's difficult to determine when he'll be ready to rejoin the Red Sox. Drew missed nearly a month of spring training, so he is expected to get a good amount of at-bats in extended spring and possibly in the minors before getting called back up.
The former Arizona Diamondback and Oakland Athletic penned a one-year deal worth more than $9 million when he originally signed with Boston. Drew enjoyed a healthy five years before missing the majority of 2011 with a fractured ankle. He missed even more time the following year due to his ankle injury and was very ineffective at the plate when he eventually returned.
Drew has much to prove this season. Sitting on a one-year deal means it's a contract season for the 30-year-old. Drew hasn't had a season to remember since 2010 when he hit .278 with 15 HRs and 61 RBIs. However, if he can stay healthy, maybe those numbers will come back. There is certainly some pressure on Drew to return as soon as possible, but there is just no rushing back from a concussion in modern sports. It's a frustrating way to start a season, but Drew should still have plenty of opportunity to play.
Meanwhile, with three hits and an RBI, Iglesias had a fine debut for Boston. He also flashed the leather that fans have come to expect. However, the three hits were all of the infield variety, and his questionable hitting will continue until he proves otherwise. Iglesias is just a career .165 hitter in the majors so far. That may be a small sample-size, but his Triple-A numbers (.251 BA, .302) don't give him much support either.
While Iglesias gets his opportunity, Drew's shouldn't be too far off. While he does need to get more at-bats before coming up, the Red Sox are looking to get off to a much better start than what has been seen over the past three seasons. Boston has already proven their commitment by starting Jackie Bradley Jr. in left field. The Red Sox could have shelved him for the first few weeks to make sure his arbitration years didn't run out until 2019. However, the team understood that winning now is more important than six years down the road, and Bradley has already made an impact.
Iglesias has an outstanding glove, but Drew is the more proven player. The Red Sox are a better team with Drew starting at shortstop than Iglesias, at least at this time. This could certainly change. Heck, it could also be a better team with Pedro Ciriaco at short, but for the time being Drew needs to get his opportunity to show Red Sox Nation why Boston signed him to a large, one-year contract. He will get his chance sooner than later.
Chris Sedenka is a Yahoo! Contributor in Sports covering the Boston Red Sox.You can listen to his daily radio show on 96.3FM in Portland, ME or at thebigjab.com. He is also the voice of the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League.
You can follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisSedenka.
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