Red Sox don't rule out a Drew return

Red Sox don't rule out a Drew return

BOSTON -- At this stage of the offseason, the Red Sox are preparing as if Xander Bogaerts will be their starting shortstop and Will Middlebrooks will be the third baseman.

However, things can always change, and general manager Ben Cherington didn't rule out the possibility of free agent Stephen Drew returning to the team he helped win a World Series in 2013. At the same time, Cherington didn't seem overly preoccupied by Drew's uncertain status.

"We're not making any assumptions, but I think we're just really focused on who we have here right now," said Cherington, speaking prior to Tuesday night's Hot Stove/Cool Music roundtable at Fenway Park. "We feel like we're in good shape to start the season tomorrow if we had to.

"There's a circumstance for the Red Sox in that we have players that we believe in and sort of bigger-picture things that we want to do, etc. Some of that has nothing to do with Stephen Drew. Stephen did a great job for us last year. We respect him, and because of that, we've kept a dialogue going.

"But there's nothing to be gleaned from that, other than we've kept a dialogue going. We're comfortable where we are, but we'll see. I don't ever want to rule anything out, because it doesn't make any sense to do that, but we like the roster we have right now."

Cherington seemed almost humored by how much media attention has been given to Drew's uncertain status.

"I think the time that's being spent on it being talked about publicly is not necessarily consistent with the time we're spending on it," Cherington said.

The GM declined to say whether Boston has made an offer beyond the $14 million qualifying offer that Drew rejected back in November.

Manager John Farrell also doesn't sound like he is staying awake at night wondering if Drew will resurface.

"I deal with the players we have," said Farrell. "If there's a late addition, I think if there's a scenario, if Stephen comes back to us as we get closer to camp, we're well aware of what Stephen is capable of. That could be the case for anybody that's added late. You adjust. I deal with the players that I'm provided, and that's where my focus is limited to."

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.