PAWTUCKET, R.I. — Not surprisingly, shortstop Stephen Drew has set realistic goals in his quest to return to the Red Sox.
On Wednesday night, Drew played the first of two games with Pawtucket, which beat the Gwinnett Braves, 3-0.
“It’s about coming in and getting games in,” Drew said, after going 1 for 3. “That’s the total key right now. Where I am right now is trying to get my body as many reps as fast as I can so I can play nine innings every day.
“I think I’ve prepared as best as I can. Playing games and nine innings, I think that’s the key to getting back up there.”
Drew, who batted third, came up in the first inning against righthander Yunesky Maya with Ryan Roberts on first and one out. Maya caught Drew looking at a 3-and-2 pitch that nipped the outside corner.
Garin Cecchini was on second base with two outs in the third when Drew lined a shot off Maya that deflected to third baseman Edward Salcedo. Drew beat Salcedo’s throw to first for an infield hit.
Drew led off the sixth inning, and after fouling off a 2-2 fastball, was called out on a third strike that nicked the inside corner.
Drew handled only two chances in the field. Jose Yepez hit a routine grounder to Drew in the third, but Drew’s throw was low, forcing first baseman Travis Shaw to stretch. Drew fielded another routine grounder in the fourth, off the bat of Brandon Boggs, and made an accurate throw to Shaw for the out.
After Pawtucket broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the seventh, Drew was replaced by Mike McCoy on a night when temperatures dipped into the low 40s.
Barring any setbacks, Drew is scheduled to be Pawtucket’s designated hitter in Thursday night’s game against Gwinnett.
Drew signed a one-year contract May 21 worth a prorated $10.1 million and was optioned two days later to Single A Greenville of the South Atlantic League.
He played shortstop for Greenville for two games, was the designated hitter for a third, and hit .375 (3 for 8) with two doubles, two RBIs, one run, and one walk.
Even though Drew was making the jump to Triple pitching, it didn’t seem to faze him.
“My mind-set doesn’t change even though I’m going to be facing Triple A pitching,” he said. “I’m trying to see as many pitches as possible so I can mimic everything and be able to pick up things in the limited number of at-bats I’m going to have.”
PawSox manager Kevin Boles was impressed with Drew’s performance, especially when it came to seeing more than a couple of pitches per at-bat.
“He said he was seeing the ball very well, which was a good sign,” Boles said. “He played well at shortstop. He was fouling off pitches and looked like he was right on the ball, which was a good sign. It sure looked like he was trying to see some pitches and get his timing down. It looked like he had coverage of the plate.”
Because Drew didn’t clear waivers until last Friday, Major League Baseball option rules dictate he will have to spend at least 10 days in the minors before he can be activated. As a result, the earliest he could play for Boston would be June 2.