At the time the Red Sox signed Stephen Drew, Xander Bogaerts was starting to settle into a rhythm, both at the plate and at shortstop.
He hit .368 with two homers and eight RBIs over the last 19 games of May, before being moved to third base to make room for Drew.
In the end, the signing helped no one. Bogaerts hit .182 after sliding over to third and made 10 errors. Drew was practically foolproof at short, but hit .176 in 39 games.
In the end, the Sox shipped Drew to the New York Yankees at the trade deadline on Thursday, allowing Bogaerts to continue to mature as their shortstop of the future.
Bogaerts recently has shown signs of snapping out of a slump that saw him hit .135 in June and .228 in July. After going 1 for 4 with a single in the Red Sox’ 4-3 victory over the Yankees on Friday night at Fenway Park, he is 13 of 39 (.333) in his previous 10 games with a homer and two RBIs.
“He’s going to go back to a position he’s most familiar with,” Sox manager John Farrell said before the game. “We agree that the defensive component of his game was improving prior to the signing of Stephen Drew — and I say improving, he was showing better range, particularly to the glove side. So he’s going back to a position of familiarity.”
Across the field at Fenway, Drew was getting adjusted to life at second base for the Yankees.
“It’s pretty strange to walk across the clubhouse and change uniforms, but I am looking forward to it,” said Drew, who went hitless in four at-bats. “I really am. New York’s giving me an opportunity here. We’re still in the chase. It’s something I’ve been used to and I am looking forward to the challenge.”
In May, Drew accepted a prorated version of the $14.1 million offer he turned down from the Red Sox in the offseason, costing him $3.9 million.
Missing two months of the season left him lost at the plate, and he said he’s just now getting to a point where he feels as if he’s had a full spring training.
But looking at his Red Sox experience as a whole, including last year’s championship, Drew says he’s content.
“Looking back and looking at Fenway and what it means to me coming off a championship year last year and knowing that feeling, I was a big piece of that,” Drew said. “Everybody that was there, they were as well. This is part of the business, but I’d like to say thanks to the fans and the head guys, the coaching staff and everybody, the players that allowed me to come in here last year and get a World Championship here. It’s something that you dream about as a little kid, and that dream came true.”
Middlebrooks is back
With his rehab assignment with Triple A Pawtucket over and the effects of a broken right index finger behind him, Will Middlebooks is looking at his return to the Red Sox as a chance to re-establish himself as the Sox’ everyday third baseman after being called up on Friday.
Injuries and inconsistency have robbed Middlebrooks of 155 games over the past two seasons. Now that he’s at a point where he’s healthy, Middlebrooks looks prove himself again.
“It’s been a tough couple years, but a World Series ring came out of that and a lot of experience,” said Middlebrooks, who went 1 for 3 with a run scored against the Yankees. “I hate to say it, but I wouldn’t trade a lot of it. I’ve learned a lot from it about myself, about my teammates and just how to go about my business every day.”
Just two seasons ago, Middlebrooks hit .288 with 15 homers and 54 RBIs after earning an early season call-up. In the time since, his bruising style of play earned him a handful of stints on the disabled list, and what he’s learned, he said, is how to take care of his body.
“Certain things you can play through, certain things you can’t,” Middlebrooks said. “And I really got to see a good side of my team having my back through tough times.”
His rehab assignment with the PawSox was a stop-and-go situation that saw him play 26 games over two months, hitting .255 with four homers and eight RBIs. At the time, the Sox were looking at the possibility of playing Middlebrooks in the outfield, but now he will have the opportunity to again prove himself as an everyday third baseman.
“I think we’re all looking forward to it,” Farrell said. “He’s been able to get regular at-bats, get his timing down. Hopefully some of the injury bug that has followed him a little bit is behind him. Really, an opportunity to take advantage of his skills. The opportunity is in front of him right now.”
A week after expressing unhappiness with his shrinking role and asking to be traded, platoon outfielder Mike Carp was designated for assignment.
A foot fracture cost Carp 33 games this season, and when he played, he wasn’t the same player who hit .296 with 43 RBIs in 86 games a year ago. In just 42 games this season, he hit .198 with as many strikeouts as hits (17).
“Unfortunately, he missed four weeks with a broken foot,” Farrell said. “In the role that he is very good at, in that platoon/bench role, he didn’t seem to get on track as much as he did a year ago. That was frustrating for him. I know he had a strong desire to try to get more consistent at-bats, which I can respect. With the additions that we had just gone through, those at-bats are going to become even more limited. So we felt like it was a chance to give him an opportunity to seek situations that might be more advantageous to him elsewhere.”
To flesh out the bullpen after shipping Andrew Miller to the Orioles, the Sox called up lefthander Tommy Layne and righthander Alex Wilson.
Layne (5-1, 1.48 ERA) has been sharp this season for Pawtucket, particularly against lefthanded batters, holding them to a .136 average. In a spotless inning of work against the Yankees, Layne struck out one and earned his first hold of the season.
In 33 appearances for the PawSox, Wilson is 4-1 with a 3.71 ERA racking up 38 strikeouts in his 38⅓ innings of work.
He had a quick two-game stint in Boston in May, getting three innings of work against the Rays.
The back end of the bullpen will remain the same, with Junichi Tazawa pitching the eighth inning and Koji Uehara closing.
“We’ve got some new faces, we’ve got some roles that are still established from what they’ve been and yet we’ve got opportunity for guys to come in here and take advantage of it,” Farrell said.
Moving on up
With the Sox grabbing Friday night’s starter Anthony Ranaudo and Allen Webster from Pawtucket in the span of a week, it made sense that Henry Owen was promoted from Double A Portland to Pawtucket on Friday. The way he toyed with the Eastern League this season (he set a franchise record with 14 wins and posted a 2.60 ERA with 126 strikeouts in 20 starts), the move seemed inevitable, but the Sox recent moves seemed to speed the process along . . . Fresh off hitting a walk-off home run for the PawSox on Thursday, Mookie Betts was called up to start in center field with the Yankees sending lefthander Chris Capuano to the mound. He singled and scored a run and made a beautiful catch in the eighth inning. Betts was originally called up on June 28 and spent 10 games with the Sox before being sent back down when Shane Victorino was activated on July 19. In his second stint with the PawSox, Betts hit .319 with three homers and 10 RBIs in 11 games, playing all but one of them in the outfield . . . While Christian Vazquez is familiar with Ranaudo from their time in the minors this season, Farrell thought it best for the rookie righthander to make his debut with David Ross behind the plate. “David caught him in spring training, so while it might not be as recent familiarity, we wanted to stick with a plan of David executing our gameplan,” Farrell said. Vazquez did make an appearance in the game, coming in after Ross left with a right foot injury in the seventh. By that time, Ranuado was already out of the game . . . The Sox won’t have to worry about facing John Lackey next week in St. Louis. Lackey will make his debut with the Cardinals on Sunday against the Brewers.