J.D. Drew eager to test hamstring

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- No, J.D. Drew hadn't heard how manager Terry Francona tried to line him up with a new endorsement opportunity by saying the Boston Red Sox outfielder had been spotted the other day in Target "shopping for supplies.''

"Hey, that's it, man,'' said Drew, who may have accumulated millions but has remained refreshingly small-town. "That's perfect. Where are you supposed to shop? Target is upscale, man. I could have been at Walmart. Walmart is like the hangout place.''

The wise guys suggested Drew was in Target loading up on Ace bandages and balm, especially after reading reports that his balky left hamstring remained a concern heading into spring training.

"I guess I have to stir it up a little bit, give everybody something to talk about,'' he said Saturday morning. "Get your mind off the cold weather.''

Drew managed to stay off the disabled list last season, but his performance suffered in the second half, when he batted just .231 with a .318 on-base percentage, a .421 slugging percentage and a .739 OPS. Overall, he batted just .255, his lowest average in four seasons with the Red Sox, and his on-base percentage of .341 was his lowest since 1999, his first full season in the big leagues.

"I got that chronic hamstring stuff I was dealing with at the end of last year,'' he said. "The second half of the season, I missed some games with it. It just didn't seem to want to go away.

"I can deal with it if it's slightly tight or something, but what it was was chronic irritation up high in the hamstring behind the glute [gluteus muscle]. That was basically like tendons rubbing. It caused tendinitis. We tried everything as far as treatment last year.''

What he needed to do, Drew said, was to strengthen the area, which he could achieve only during the offseason. According to a WEEI report, Drew even resorted to platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy in December, a treatment that is designed to improve the blood flow in the affected area and help the healing process.

"Because I didn't have to run and play baseball every day in the offseason, I could get it stronger,'' Drew said. "It just took a while, but it's turned a corner. I've tried several things, and in the last three weeks or so it seemed to make the transition.

"I was running the other day and it felt a lot better. Hopefully, knock on wood, it'll stay the way it is, and the pain that was limiting my stride won't come back. I can deal with it if it's slightly tight or something.''

Drew said he does not expect to be limited in camp, but will progress cautiously.

"Hopefully I've got to a position it's healed up enough that I can do the things I want to do,'' he said. "I'm not limited to doing anything here, but I'll just kind of glide into things a little bit, make sure it doesn't blow up.''

Besides his hamstring, another source of great frustration for Drew was what he considered an inconsistent strike zone, one in which pitches he traditionally laid off were called strikes. That led him, he said, to start chasing pitches out of the zone.

"I've tried to let that go,'' he said, "get in a state of mind of starting over. It was tough, for what I do, but we'll see how it unfolds as the season goes along. Hopefully, it will be better than last.''

Drew is entering the last year of his five-year, $70 million contract with the Red Sox, and he turns 36 in November, two days after David Ortiz turns the same age. Any retirement parties planned?

"I ain't planning nothing, one way or the other,'' he said. "I want to have a really good year with my options open one way or the other. If I decide I'm done, I'm done. If I don't, then I've got options. I've always been that kind of guy I'm not going to coast through anything, even if it is my last year. I've got to think about stuff, figure out some stuff.''

Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.