Are Drew's days in right numbered?

BALTIMORE -- A changing of the guard may come as soon as Friday night in Fenway Park, when the Boston Red Sox come home and David Ortiz's three-game suspension comes to an end.

Even 35-year-old J.D. Drew, who after 4 ½ seasons as the team's regular right fielder is on the verge of losing his job to 24-year-old Josh Reddick, acknowledges the possibility.

"I understand the ins and outs of baseball and what's got to happen when you've got a guy going well," Drew said after Tuesday night's 6-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles. The hot-hitting Reddick, playing left field, had his third three-hit game in barely a month since he was summoned from Triple-A Pawtucket, while Drew singled and grounded out twice.

"I want to get things rolling," Drew said, "but this team has to win ballgames. I want to see another postseason. Tito's got a decision to make. For me, it's a matter of getting to where I'm swinging the bat well, in whatever role. They'll figure it out."

Sox manager Terry Francona has expressed fealty to veteran players countless times and enthusiastically recounts how he has been rewarded for that loyalty, doing so again Tuesday on his weekly appearance on WEEI, mentioning Mark Bellhorn and Ortiz.

But Drew's situation recalls more the way Francona handled the shortstop position this spring, when he insisted for weeks that Marco Scutaro was his everyday shortstop until Jed Lowrie's scintillating start gave him no choice but to make a change.

Reddick is batting .367 in 28 games, with an on-base percentage of .418 and a slugging percentage of .671.

Drew is batting .223, with an on-base percentage of .309 and a shockingly low slugging percentage of .321, a product of just six doubles, a triple and four home runs in 77 games. He has driven in just 22 runs.

They call it "blind" loyalty for a reason. While the Red Sox at least entertain the prospect of making a blockbuster deal for another right fielder in Carlos Beltran of the Mets, an unlikely proposition according to one well-placed club source, it appears the Sox have reached a point of no return with Drew.

What would Drew do if he were manager?

"I don't know anything about that," he said. "That's not my decision. My thing is to get my swing where I want it and try to get it right. It just isn't falling into place the way I want it to.

"But that's why you keep pushing, you know? I'll figure it out."

For all of Gordon Edes' column, click here.