"I played two months in 10th grade at second base on varsity," Drew said on Friday. "It was kind of ironic."
Or, at least, coincidental. Because for the next two months, Drew will be the Yankees' everyday second baseman as they attempt to sneak into the postseason spot after their final 55 games.
New York Yankees
Yankees infield coach Mick Kelleher, whose responsibility it will be to help Drew become a second baseman, called Drew's new assignment "O-J-T" -- which is, of course, shorthand for "on-the-job training," something that is not normally done in Major League Baseball, and almost never by teams making a playoff push.
"There’s different throws, different angles, different breaks, different reads off the bat. Double plays, pivots, cuts and relays, shifts. All that stuff," said Kelleher, a former infielder who played 160 of his 622 big-league games at second base.
"He’s a really good shortstop, so I don’t anticipate him having too much problems," Kelleher said. "But I guarantee you’d sure like to get him on the field for a little practice."
Drew got precious little practice before his first game as a Yankee -- just a few grounders on the infield before Friday night's series opener at Fenway Park.
"I think just getting adjusted over there playing second, it’s going to be a challenge a little bit because I’ve been playing short my whole big-league career," Drew said. "I took pride in defense all my life, and being a really good shortstop I think for the past three years, top-rated there in fielding and everything else, it will be a challenge, but I don't think it will be an issue. I think I’ll be able to do it."
Drew, of course, missed more than a third of the season after entering free agency and failing to get an acceptable multi-year deal in the offseason. Since coming back in June, Drew has hit just .176 with a .583 OPS, but has performed better the past two weeks.
Although Drew said he would not have done anything differently, he did acknowledge that the layoff hurt him in his second go-round with the Red Sox.
“It does affect [you]. It’s not normal for a guy to come in, and these guys basically have three months of the year already going," he said. "I'm kind of just getting out of spring training."
Drew said he worked out extensively during his absence, although in a rather haphazard fashion.
"You don’t hit against big-league pitchers, obviously, so I was trying to make due with anything," he said. "High school pitchers, college pitchers if they had a chance. And that wasn’t every day. I had to try to find a mix of guys coming in, and were they able to throw to me? It might have been three times a week, four times a week.”
He also took between 80-100 grounders a day, seven days a week. But not one of them at second base.
He'll probably get his first one Friday night.