Drew tunes out boos, looks to get right at plate

Drew tunes out boos, looks to get right at plate

Drew tunes out boos, looks to get right at plate
PHILADELPHIA -- His bruised left eye doused with a heavy dose of black and blue, right fielder J.D. Drew was out of the Red Sox's starting lineup for the third straight game Thursday. With a lefty pitching for the second time in this three-game series, it has been a little easier for manager Terry Francona to take the conservative approach with Drew, who suffered the injury fouling a ball off his eye Sunday during batting practice in Pittsburgh.

Not only did Drew return to the mix by coming off the bench for two at-bats in Thursday's 5-2 win over the Phillies, but he got thunderous boos when he stepped to the plate for both at-bats.

In Philadelphia, the fans will never forgive Drew not signing with the Phillies after they took him with the No. 1 pick in the 1997 First-Year Player Draft.

"It was probably a little bit crazier over at the Vet," said Drew. "Now they're selling out every game, so they have a nice chant going on out there."

There is so much venom in Philly regarding Drew that the fans even boo his brother Stephen when the D-backs come to town.

Even after 14 years, Drew doesn't think the grudge will ever end.

"I don't think that's ever going to happen," Drew said. "It is what it is. Hey, it will stay there. As long as I'm playing this game, they'll remember, that's for sure. I'm surprised they didn't boo Drew Sutton. He plays on the Red Sox with the name Drew. It seems like they would hammer him, too, but he came out pretty clean, I think."

While the boos seem to roll right off Drew's back, his more pressing matter is emerging from a near-season-long slump. Mike Cameron, the other part of Boston's right-field platoon, was designated for assignment before Thursday's game, making it all the more important that Drew starts hitting.

"I feel like I'm swinging the bat batter," said Drew. "[I] just have to get some hits, get a rhythm going and some confidence. You know, just like the first at-bat I had today, [I] went up there and hit a line drive right at somebody for an out. It feels good to hit the ball good. I think I found something that I'm going to stick with and keep it simplified."

Drew went 1-for-2 to raise his average to .234, with four homers and 18 RBIs. He is likely to return to the lineup on Friday night against the Astros.

"It's kind of looking good today, kind of like a natural eye black," said Drew of his bruise.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.