|Drew struggles offensively all season, then breaks out in playoffs|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 09 October 2007 15:58|
After a trying first full year with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the 24-year-old shortstop enjoyed a breakout performance in the division series.
``He's not just a defensive guy, he's not just an offensive guy. He's an all-around player,'' Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said. ``And you're seeing that now. The timing's pretty good. I'll have to give him credit for that.''
Drew hit just .238 in the regular season, but the numbers were misleading, first baseman Tony Clark said.
``I told him on more than one occasion that it was the hardest .230 I've ever seen anybody hit,'' Clark said. ``It was one of those situations where at some point you know, if he stays the course, you've got to believe the balls will start falling.''
In the final few games of the season, Drew had some successful at-bats, then came his magnificent show - at the plate and in the field - in the Diamondbacks' three-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs.
Drew batted .500 (7-for-14) with a double, triple and two home runs. He drove in four runs and scored four.
Despite committing one error on a routine grounder, he made several spectacular plays, including a memorable stop deep in the hole.
For the quiet, reserved Drew, the hits meant the most.
``It's a blessing,'' he said, ``because the team picked me up this year when things weren't going good. To contribute back in the postseason is exciting for me. The confidence, it's been there, Just to start having something to show for it helps.''
Drew almost missed this moment on the big stage.
His older brother J.D., now with the Boston Red Sox, sat out an entire season and re-entered the draft because he didn't want to play for the team that chose him, the Philadelphia Phillies.
Like J.D., the younger Drew was represented by tough agent Scott Boras. Although he was considered probably the best player in the 2004 draft, Drew slid to Arizona's No. 15 pick because of concerns about how difficult it would be to sign him.
Late on the night of May 31, 2005, just minutes before they would have lost his rights, the Diamondbacks signed Drew to a five-year contract that included a $5.5 million signing bonus.
Drew rose quickly through the minors, hitting .389 for Class A Lancaster before a brief stop at Double-A Tennessee. In 2006, he batted .284 for Triple-A Tucson before being called up by the Diamondbacks to replace injured Craig Counsell. Drew never gave up the starting job, hitting .316 in 59 games.
He was expected to take up where he left off this year, but it wasn't to be. The fact that he often was making good contact with the ball made it only slightly more bearable.
``It was a plus, but it was frustrating because I really didn't have anything to show for it,'' Drew said after the team worked out Tuesday at Chase Field. ``Now that the season's over, I learned from it, and I'll always have that under my belt.''
Exactly what did he learn?
``Just keep going every day,'' he said. ``There are two things you could have done - just give up or keep striving and going after your goal. That's what I did, just playing hard every day.''
Melvin never wavered in his support. Drew knew he was the everyday shortstop.
``I never saw a guy that would suggest .235 or whatever it is,'' Melvin said. ``He's always had better at bats than that.''
When the hits started falling, or sailing over the fence, Melvin and his staff were expecting it.
``You ask anybody here, you see what Stephen Drew is doing, it isn't a surprise,'' the manager said.
As the spotlight gets brighter, Drew's emotions remain the same. It's a family trait, he said.
``I'm an even-keeled kind of player,'' he said. ``J.D.'s got the same thing. He's even-keeled. You try not to get to high or too low, just go out and play hard.''
If the Diamondbacks can get past Colorado in the NLCS, it could be brother against brother in the World Series.
``It would be cool,'' Drew said. ``We'll see what happens. Hopefully we can get there.''