LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — I talked to Tony La Russa, the World Series-winning manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, about J.D. Drew, the Sox new outfield acquisition. La Russa had Drew for the first six seasons of his major league career, and in the past has raised questions about Drew’s passion and willingness to play hurt. La Russa also is the guy who raised questions about whether Edgar Renteria would be happy playing in Boston, and was dead-on in his assessment that Renteria would not be comfortable in the Boston environment.
Here’s what he had to say about Drew:
“It’s interesting. i think J.D. is…Edgar is more emotional, and more sensitive. I mean, I think J.D. is more stoic. I think in the end, you’ve got to enjoy a lot of attention (in Boston), because a Boston player is just under a microscope, the fans are so interested. It will be interesting to see how much J.D. will enjoy the attention, but I don’t think he’ll be bothered. He’s got a stoic kind of calm, where Edgar is just a sweetheart.”
I asked La Russa if he thought Sox fans, who love to see their players show passion, would interpret Drew’s “stoic” as passive. “Let me tell you, if he hits a ball in the gap and gets a triple, he won’t look passive. I think he’ll be productive.”
Asked about his past comments, particularly the questions he raised in Buzz Bissinger’s book, “Three Nights in August,” La Russa said: “My feeling at the time was that J.D. needed to push himself to be as great as he can be, because he’s so talented he could play at a high level and still be better. That’s your obligation as a coach, to get him to the max. But he’s been gone since then, and he did well for Atlanta and he did well for L.A. To me, that’s a matter of maturity, and I’m sure he’s understanding more and more what he’s capable of doing.”