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Sox give red-hot Drew a breather

Sox give red-hot Drew a breather

BOSTON -- Why no J.D. Drew in the Boston lineup on Wednesday night? It turns out it was just a case of Red Sox manager Terry Francona trying to keep his right fielder fresh and productive. Beginning on Thursday, the Red Sox will face four straight right-handers, and Francona wants Drew in the lineup for all of those games.

Marlins left-hander Andrew Miller started against the Sox on Wednesday, and Rocco Baldelli started in right.

This, even though lefties are hitting .292 off Miller, whereas righties are hitting .244.

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"This guy, for whatever reason this year, has been tougher on righties," Francona said. "Just with the four righties coming up, I thought it made sense to play Rocco, at least until this guy is out of the game. Maybe he hits a homer. Because [Baldelli] probably won't play the next four."

For the second year in a row, Drew is having a solid month of June. Last year, the left-handed hitter went on a power surge in the month, belting 12 home runs. This time around, he is serving as an on-base machine.

Entering Wednesday's game, Drew was had a .522 on-base percentage in June, which included a .333 average, two homers and eight RBIs.

Drew's on-base surge started -- conveniently enough -- when Francona moved him to the No. 2 spot in the batting order on May 31. Typically, Drew has hit fifth or sixth during his time with the Red Sox.

"I feel good," said Drew. "I think the big key is seeing the ball. I think the big key is tracking the ball in the zone, and when you get a pitch to hit, getting the barrel to it. All in all, if you're seeing the ball well, it seems like good things happen."

Good things are even happening with Drew's back, which was a big problem last year, when he played just 109 games.

"I haven't had any issues with it," said Drew. "It's been good. I've had some times where it's been a little bit tight, but for the most part, the exercises, the stretching, all that stuff has kept it nice and loose, and hopefully it will stay that way."

It turns out that the injection Drew had in Spring Training did exactly what he was hoping.

"I knew that once I kind of worked with the chiropractor a little in the spring and had an idea of what was going on and the facets being locked up, it definitely helped being a little more mobile," said Drew. "I got the injection, and everything seemed to be freed up a little bit. It gets tight from time to time. We play a real long game out there, standing around and stuff. But everything seems to be manageable."

For the season, Drew his hitting .263 with nine homers and 31 RBIs.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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