FORT MYERS, Fla. — With Opening Day arriving two weeks from Monday, there remains some doubt that the Red Sox will be able to pencil in Stephen Drew into their lineup against the Yankees.
Drew, who was hit on the front of his helmet by a fastball on March 7 (staying in the game at the time), is still showing symptoms of a concussion, and hasn’t been able to gain clearance from Major League Baseball to resume baseball activities, according to Red Sox manager John Farrell. Farrell noted that the Sox have been in constant communication with the University of Pittsburg’s Dr. Micky Collins, the one leading experts in the field of head trauma, throughout Drew’s recovery.
“I think the window starts to narrow a little bit here,” Farrell said. “We’re down to the final two weeks. He’s going to actually start to initiate some on-field activity, and that’s just to go through stretch and get his arm ready to play catch. No BP. When those symptoms are fully subsided is when he starts to ramp things up more intently, and we’re not there yet. At some point, you start to look, we’re getting into this last stage of camp. Yeah, you’ve got to think about all the options.
“The biggest question is when does he get back in a game. He still has that, as he described it, kind of a wavy feeling in his vision or that feel mentally that he has when he moves quickly or has a quick reaction to something to stay under control. Unfortunately, we felt as we stated before that this was going to be a couple day thing at the most. At the time he was hit, we never thought twice about it. But here we are, 10 days later, and we’re still in the same situation.”
If Drew isn’t ready for the opener, it is likely Jose Iglesias will take the starting shortstop spot until the injury situation is resolved.
With Iglesias in the lineup, and David Ortiz not being ready for Opening Day, the Red Sox might be forced to begin the season with a lineup heavy on right-handed hitting. The only lefty hitters would be Jacoby Ellsbury, the switch-hitting Shane Victorino, and potentially one of a group consisting of Daniel Nava, Mike Carp, Ryan Sweeney or Lyle Overbay.
It is not believed that despite being a left-handed hitter, and having an impressive spring training, Brock Holt wouldn’t be counted on to start in the place of Drew. The Red Sox would value Iglesias’ defense over whatever advanced offensive skills Holt (who has options) might bring to the table. Iglesias has made strides at the plate, hitting .239, but with an improved .749 OPS and six extra-base hits.
“You look at the hard contact. There have been a number of outs that he’s driven to right field, to center field with more authority that he finished up last year,” Farrell said of Iglesias. “The adjustments he’s undertaking are showing up in the game. I think there’s a more confident hitter that stands in the box right now than was the case at the end of last year.”
Regarding Ortiz, the designated hitter still is going day-to-day and isn’t certain to take batting practice Monday as was originally planned.
“He still felt some discomfort when he was running on the treadmill yesterday,” Farrell said of Ortiz, who is still battling heel inflammation. “We’ll see where he’s at as far as being in a cage to take some initial swings tomorrow or over the next couple days.”