TORONTO -- The one thing Red Sox right fielder J.D. Drew had been during his lengthy absence from the lineup was optimistic. But Drew, who has been on the shelf with a troublesome lower back since Aug. 18, is finding that more difficult with each frustrating day.
For maybe the first time, Drew looked truly dejected while sitting at his locker following Friday's victory over the Blue Jays.
"I took some swings today and it tightened up," said Drew. "It's hard -- when you're a hitter you know what kind of feel you're looking for, and then you take a few swings and it gets like that. You realize it's not going real well. You can't be as fluid as you'd like. You don't have feel that natural whip and rotation. You sit around for a little while after and limp around the dugout. It's one of those patters that just keeps popping up. We're going to try to figure out what we're going to do with it."
The Red Sox have nine games left in the regular season. While Drew still hopes he will make it back in time to prove to the Red Sox he should be activated for the playoffs, he acknowledged that time is growing short.
"I think everybody feels that way," Drew said. "We'll try to figure out something. Maybe another epidural or something, try to knock out the existing, lingering effects. I don't know. A bunch of the training staff is kind of scratching their heads, trying to figure out what's going on."
Clearly, Drew has doubts about what is going on with his back.
"[I'm] just wondering if the injury is healed, or if you just keep scratching at it like a scab and picking at it and it's not fully healing," Drew said. "It's frustrating, that's for sure. We're doing what we can. I'd love to get back. But yeah, you are right, it's getting close to the end. Like I said before, this is the time of year you'd love to play for. I'm going to try to do what I can to get back."
With Drew out of the mix, the Red Sox have been using three outfielders -- Jacoby Ellsbury, Mark Kotsay and Coco Crisp -- in three spots.
Drew still holds out hope that he can eventually reclaim his spot in right field.
"We have to figure out what we're going to do with it," Drew said. "One day it's going to get better. I don't know what day it's going to be."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.