When Stephen Drew steps into a major league batter’s box Wednesday for the first time since a fastball to the head left him with a concussion more than a month ago, he said there will be no hesitation. It’s been two weeks since he’s felt any symptoms, a week since he was cleared to play in games by Major League Baseball and the steps he’s taken after going through examinations with a concussion specialist and successfully completing his rehab assignment have him comfortable as he prepares to make his Red Sox debut against the Orioles.
“I feel ready,” Drew said. “Now it’s getting in there and getting back and playing the game that I always played. I’m looking forward to getting back with the guys and just help this team win. That’s what it was about.”
The job that Jose Iglesias did as Drew’s early season fill-in (9 for 20 in six games) appeared as if it would make handling Drew’s return complicated for Sox manager John Farrell and general manager Ben Cherington. But Farrell said he met with Iglesias Tuesday to tell him he would be optioned to Triple A Pawtucket.
“To his credit he took it very professionally,” Farrell said. “I’m sure there was some disappointment in there, but he did everything that we could have hoped and he played exceptionally well for us. So he goes back to Pawtucket I’m sure with an increased level of confidence. Probably in his mind, he’s a major league player.”
Having signed Drew in December to a one-year $9.5 million contract, Cherington said Drew always figured to be a vital piece to the Sox lineup and that there was little consideration about sticking with Iglesias.
“We signed Stephen this offseason and felt like he was an important part when we were putting together our team, adding a lefthand presence in our lineup and a steady performer at shortstop. He was consistently one of the best shortstops in the National League before the ankle injury and we felt like we were getting him at the right time and fully healthy.
“Unfortunately, he got hit in the head with a fastball in spring training and had to recover from that. During that time, Iglesias did a terrific job, both in spring training and early in the season here. I think it’s clear that Jose’s taken a step forward, but at this point in the season, we’ve got two capable shortstops that both need to play and Jose’s going to do that in Pawtucket right now. But it’s a good situation for us.”