Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Drew's bat good enough for MVP award
By Amy K. Nelson ESPN.com
NEW YORK -- As the innings wore on Tuesday night, American League manager Terry Francona was surveying his options, and none was pretty. If the All-Star Game had lasted much longer than 15 innings, J.D. Drew might have had the unique opportunity to make two appearances in the game's box score.
J.D. Drew tied the game with a two-run shot to left field off Edinson Volquez.
"Another couple of innings, and he would have pitched," Francona said.
Pitched? As in, gone to the mound?
"As [the situation] started to come to fruition," Drew said, "I was a little bit nervous."
For good reason, since Francona was serious: Drew would have been asked to take the mound for the American League. Luckily for Francona, Drew and the entire Red Sox organization, it never came to that. His hitting and defense were enough to garner Drew the Most Valuable Player award in his first All-Star game, which ended with a 4-3 win for the AL.
When Scott Kazmir was summoned to pitch the 15th inning, Francona had exhausted his entire staff of 12 pitchers, and he started to go over his options. Drew was one who came to the forefront.
Did he really think it could happen?
"You never know what Terry will do," said Drew, with his crystal MVP trophy by his side. "If he had told me to do it, I would have done it. Just throw some stuff up there. I got some sneaky stuff here and there. I don't know if I would have got anybody out."
What he did get out, as in out of the park, was a 2-1 pitch from Reds pitcher Edinson Volquez -- a two-run shot in the seventh inning to tie the game. It was the first real sign of life for the AL, and Drew, who was booed routinely at Yankee Stadium all night, got his first loud applause.
J.D. Drew's two-run seventh-inning jack off Edinson Volquez helped earn the All-Star rookie the MVP award, just the fourth Red Sox All-Star to be named MVP.
"It was brief, to say the least," Drew said with a smile. "It was a little weird as the game went along, I think they forgot I hit a home run and [the taunting] picked up again."
He played the last 10 innings and finished his night 2-for-4, with a walk, a stolen base and the two-run homer. He became the fourth Red Sox player to win the All-Star MVP award (named in Ted Williams' honor). And consider the class Drew is in: The other three Boston MVPs were Carl Yastrzemski (1970), Roger Clemens (1986) and Pedro Martinez (1999).
Drew's night was a far cry from when he first arrived in Boston before the 2007 season, with a $70 million, five-year contract. The expectations were high, and when Drew struggled last year, Boston fans showered him with boos, similar to what he heard most of the night Tuesday in New York.
Drew said, though, that his strong end to last season, when he hit .314 during the postseason, catapulted him into this one, in which he leads the Red Sox with a .984 OPS.
"I've always had confidence and ability," said Drew, who became the 15th player to hit a home run in his first All-Star at-bat. "It's been a nice little run; we've still got a long ways to go. But this is definitely a good night."
A good night for him, and his manager. Otherwise, who knows what would have happened if Drew had been called upon to throw his first major league pitch in the All-Star Game? After all, he hasn't thrown a pitch competitively since high school nearly 15 years ago.
"I would have been ready," Drew said. "I've given [Francona] a hard time in the couple years I've played for him. If he ever runs out [of pitchers], just give me a holler."
No need on Tuesday night. All Drew needed to be was himself.
Amy K. Nelson is a staff writer for ESPN.com.