FORT MYERS, Fla. — J.D. Drew was an acquired taste for Red Sox fans and some never acquired it.
Drew was an even-tempered right fielder from 2007-11. All he did was get on base a ton and play excellent defense. Statistically, he compared favorably to other players at his position.
But because Drew had a big contract and struggled with injuries, a segment of fans didn’t like him much. A smaller subset resented the fact that he never threw his bat or cursed at the umpire.
Stephen Drew, the new Red Sox shortstop, isn’t his brother. He doesn’t really look like him or even talk like him. His personality is different, too. But some fans will be predisposed not to like him anyway.
That’s too bad. If first impressions mean anything, he seems like somebody eager to play for the Sox.
“It’s exciting,” Drew said when he arrived in camp Thursday morning. “You guys know J.D. and stuff like that. But it’s going to be a fun year for me getting to play with these guys. I played against them in the interleague three times in my career. I had fun there, I like Fenway. It’s a historic park, and the fans get into it. At least I’ll be on the home side this time.”
Drew has No. 7, the number his brother wore.
“For me, it’s an honor to wear the jersey for my older brother. I looked up to him,” Drew said.
Drew wore No. 7 in high school and kidded his brother last week that he actually had the number first.
As to their personalities, Drew said he was a little different.
“We still are both kind of low-key guys. That’s what you’ll see. But I probably get a little more feisty here and there every once in a while,” Drew said.
Drew is likely a one-year player for the Red Sox. He is trying to rebuild his value after suffering a severely broken ankle in 2011. That limited him to 86 games in 2011 and 79 last season. He said he is fine now and had a normal offseason.
The Red Sox have Xander Bogaerts and Jose Iglesias in their system; their turn is coming. But for now, Drew could be a good fit. He was a productive player from 2008-11, hitting .273/.333/.454. Drew plays solid defense, too.
J.D. Drew retired after the 2011 season and hasn’t been seen around the team since. He is busy being a father and husband in Georgia.
“His body was not doing what it wanted to. He was frustrated. He had a good career, though,” Stephen Drew said.