ST. PETERSBURG -- It's hard to believe Stephen Drew's slump was such a big topic of conversation earlier in the season. These days, he is one of the most productive hitters the Red Sox have.
Fresh off his grand slam on Wednesday, Drew was elevated to the seventh spot in the batting order in Thursday's series finale. It was the third time Drew has batted seventh this season. He has started most games in the eighth or ninth spots.
"If it gets him another at-bat tonight, all the better," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "He's in a three-week run here where he's been swinging the bat well. It wasn't just the matter of the grand slam here [Wednesday] night. It's more a reflection of what's been taking place over time. He's had good at-bats against left-handed pitching, so if they bring in a lefty to turn Daniel [Nava] around and to face [Stephen], I feel like he's equipped to handle that."
Drew headed into Thursday's action leading all American League shortstops with a .609 slugging percentage during May.
And it isn't as if Drew is just an offensive weapon. He has also played strong defense at the vital position of shortstop.
Even if Drew isn't a highlight-reel defender like Red Sox prospect Jose Iglesias, he still manages to get the job done.
"When they see him over a long period of time, they'll recognize how good he is, because he's in many ways a very dependable defender," said Farrell. "Sometimes that doesn't show as flashy, where it might catch the average fan's eye, but when you look up after a hard-hit ball and he's standing right there, he's ranging up the middle to his glove side, he's a very good defender. And he's got a very accurate throwing arm.
"The one play he can make very well is the ball he'll charge to his backhand side and throw the ball back across his body. He's a damn good player."