NEW YORK -- Wondering where Stephen Drew has been lately? Well, it's quite possible that Stephen Drew has been wondering the same thing.
After Drew started just two games in the past 15 days, Yankees manager Joe Girardi finally revealed -- under questioning, of course -- that his second baseman has been suffering from dizziness ever since contracting a bad head cold that left fluid in his ears about three weeks ago. On Saturday, Drew underwent a precautionary impact test to determine whether he had suffered a concussion.
The results of that are not back yet, but Drew said after Sunday's 6-1 win over the White Sox that he still is plagued by dizziness and equilibrium problems that he equates with the head cold, and possibly, with a concussion inflicted by a 2013 beaning.
"I'm always available, it’s just that I have to concentrate for ground balls and hitting and everything because of balance, and feeling the way I do, it’s times 10," he said. "It’s not that I don’t want to go. It's just that it’s not fair to me and it’s not fair to them. Just trying to do as much as we can to get this dizziness and off balance feel I have over with.”
Drew said the concussion test was ordered because of the suspicion that he might have suffered another one when he was hit in the face by a grounder that took a bad hop off his glove in a Sept. 9 game against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium. The 2013 concussion, he said, "messed up my vestibular nerve" and took 3 1/2 months to clear up. Still, he believes his problem is more related to illness than impact; Drew said he already was experiencing dizziness from the head cold when he was hit by the baseball in the first inning Sept. 9.
"As players, you play through sickness but really, it was around that time when things were off balance, everything with the ears," he said. "The congestion in my head went and got in my ears. Took some medicine to try to get over that, but it still lingered this long.”
Drew's illness could not come at a worse time for him, when the Yankees are wrestling with playoff roster decisions and his replacement at second base, Dustin Ackley, is swinging a hot bat. Ackley has 11 hits in his last 28 at-bats, including a solo home run in the sixth inning Sunday that gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead. Drew's batting average this season is a disappointing .201, but he has hit 17 home runs, more than any other Yankee infielder with Mark Teixeira out for the season.
“It's very frustrating," Drew said. "I was swinging the bat well and the timing’s not good at all. The season’s ending and it’s very frustrating. At the same time, I’ve got to get well."
The Yankees have four potential second basemen on their roster -- Drew, Brendan Ryan, Rob Refsnyder and Ackley -- and are unlikely to carry more than three with them into the playoffs. Asked if Drew's problems had dropped him on the Yankees' depth chart, Girardi was revealingly noncommittal. "It’s hard to say because we haven’t seen him play for the last 10 days because he hasn’t felt good," Girardi said.
And Ackley? "He's worked really hard and put himself right into the mix," Girardi said.