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Red Sox Notebook

No other way for Drew, just more hard work

Playing one of their few games this season indoors forced the Red Sox to keep on their toes, best exemplified by Kevin Youkilis's catch near Alex Cora. Playing one of their few games this season indoors forced the Red Sox to keep on their toes, best exemplified by Kevin Youkilis's catch near Alex Cora. (SCOTT AUDETTE/REUTERS)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- For every game in which J.D. Drew seems to be breaking out of his season-long slump, there's another three that erase the progress.

On July 20, Drew hit two doubles (one of which should have been ruled a home run) off the Green Monster. Then came an 0-for-12 streak.

After getting his average as high as .265, Drew hit just .180 (11 for 61) over his last 18 games to slip down to .248. It's a frustrating exercise for the normally reliable hitter. The roller coaster ride continued last night with a double and single in his first two at-bats -- followed by five hitless ones. The Sox six runs in the 12th inning for a 12-6 win, but Drew accounted for two outs a fly out and a grounder to second.

Hitting coach Dave Magadan said yesterday the placid right fielder is angry at the way the season has gone for him.

"He'll have five or six games where you're thinking, 'He's really going to take off now,' " Magadan said. "Either he has some nagging injury that gets him out of the lineup and he sits for two or three days, then when he gets back in, his swing isn't the same, or he has a period where he gets too pull-conscious.

"It's something where he needs results out on the field two or three days in a row and then [can] gain confidence with it."

But those confidence-building streaks have been rare, other than a notable stretch during interleague play in which Drew was slamming the ball around National League parks. Magadan has continued to work with Drew on his approach, though it hasn't been easy based on the way he has been pitched. According to Magadan, Drew has seen more offspeed pitches than at any time in his career.

That doesn't mean they've abandoned the desire for Drew to try to hit the ball more the other way, exemplified by his second-inning double off the base of the left field wall.

"He's worked hard on staying through the ball, staying to the middle of the field, and driving the ball the other way," Magadan said. "It's just something that hasn't really transferred into the game. When you're getting pitched the way he is -- he's getting pitched hard in and then soft stuff out over the plate -- it's a tougher pitch to drive the other way when it's soft out over the plate.

"He didn't get results right away on driving balls the other way. He lined out a few times, hit some balls hard to center field, lined out to shortstop. Then, maybe not consciously, but maybe subconsciously, you think, 'God, I've got to pull the ball to get a hit,' and you've got to start over from square one. I think it's something where the last two months of the season, we're going to see more of the real J.D. Drew."

Pedroia on bench
Dustin Pedroia didn't play for the second straight day because of soreness in his side and ribs. Although Pedroia attributed the injury to diving stops he made on Travis Hafner and Casey Blake in Cleveland, manager Terry Francona placed the blame on a pitch that hit Pedroia in the ribs Wednesday from Fausto Carmona. Pedroia and Francona said that Pedroia should be back in the lineup today. "He certainly could play," Francona said. "Just makes some sense not to do it."

Alex Cora started in his place last night and went 0 for 5.

Numbers game
Francona attempted to explain the reason for Kevin Youkilis's .343 average (62 for 181) while batting No. 2 in the order as opposed to his .217 average (25 for 115) while hitting No. 5. The manager attributed the difference to the normal progression of a hitter over a season.

"I think when a guy gets hot, you see this happen so often, a guy gets real hot and you move him to a part of the order of more responsibility and then they get cold," Francona said. "Well, if a guy was hitting .380, he's probably going to get down to .330."

Next step for Clement
Matt Clement threw 38 pitches yesterday in a bullpen session watched by pitching coach John Farrell. "I think he said today was the first time he's felt like a pitcher in a long time," Francona said. Clement said he felt more like himself in yesterday's session, adding there was a "little bit more pop on the ball." Clement has been working in Fort Myers, Fla., and should be able to throw sliders off flat ground next week . . . Brendan Donnelly continues to throw, though without any signs of progress. He had a "so-so" day when he threw Friday, according to Francona. "The hardest thing is seeing how much you can give him without going too far." . . . With Friday night's win, the Red Sox went to 23 games over .500 for the first time since July 25, 2006 . . . The Devil Rays made a couple of trades before the game, sending infielder Ty Wigginton to Houston for reliever Dan Wheeler, and getting minor league reliever Brian Shackelford from Cincinnati for infielder Jorge Cantu. The Devil Rays also sent reliever Shawn Camp to Triple A Durham.

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