July 18, 2008
NEW YORK (AP) – J.D. Drew always had All-Star talent. Now he has the award to prove it.
After waiting 11 seasons to play in a Midsummer Classic, the oft-injured Drew hit a tying homer in his first at-bat Tuesday night and took home MVP honors following a wild American League victory at Yankee Stadium.
The Red Sox outfielder also singled and finished 2-for-4 with a walk to help the AL beat the National Leaguers 4-3 in 15 innings.
“I’ve always had confidence in the ability,” said Drew, signed by Boston before last season. “Just took me a little while to put it together last year, get some experience in the American League.”
In a game that lasted 4 hours, 50 minutes, Drew was nearly asked to do more than hit.
“He might have been a little more of an MVPer if we went a couple more innings. He might have pitched,” AL manager Terry Francona of the Red Sox said. “He’s been begging me a long time to pitch, and we almost got close.”
Drew said he would have been ready to take the mound if the AL ran out of pitchers, but he wasn’t necessarily looking forward to it.
“After it started to come to fruition, I was a little bit nervous to be honest with you,” he said. “I would have thrown some stuff up there. I got a little sneaky stuff here and there. I don’t know if I would have got anybody out.
“It wouldn’t have been anything pretty, that’s for sure.”
Drew was presented with a white SUV for winning the MVP award, named after Boston Hall of Famer Ted Williams.
“One of those undescribable events,” Drew said near second base as he was booed by the scattered crowd that remained at about 1:50 a.m.
Only fitting, because the rival Red Sox had a rewarding week in New York.
Boston had seven players selected for baseball’s All-Star salute to The House That Ruth Built in its final season, plus Francona.
The Red Sox even excelled in the Futures Game for top prospects on Sunday when 19-year-old Boston minor leaguer Che-Hsuan Lin hit a two-run homer for the World team to win the MVP.
“It’s a different situation to come in as a Red Sox, but you’re playing for the victory ultimately,” Drew said.
The 32-year-old Drew hit a two-run drive off Cincinnati right-hander Edinson Volquez with two outs in the seventh inning, tying the score at 2 and making him the 15th player to homer in his first All-Star at-bat.
“It just adds to his season that he’s having,” Boston catcher Jason Varitek said.
Booed much of the night along with the rest of the Red Sox, Drew was cheered by the Yankee Stadium crowd as he rounded the bases.
“It was brief to say the least. It was a little weird. I heard about it when I got back out to right field, for sure,” Drew said. “Then as the game went along, I think they forgot that I hit a home run and it picked up again.”
The Red Sox were criticized for signing Drew to a $70 million, five-year contract when he was a free agent before last season. He got off to a slow start in Boston, then hit a big grand slam in the 2007 AL championship series against Cleveland. This year, he’s showing all his skills, batting .302 with 17 homers and 55 RBIs.
Drew’s production has been crucial for Boston, helping to fill the void left by injured slugger David Ortiz.
“He had some struggles last year, and we knew he was a better player. He knew he was a better player,” Francona said. “We’re seeing that now, and we’ve seen it for a while now. Since Dave has been hurt, J.D. has been really special for us.”
Drew became the fourth Red Sox player to win an All-Star MVP, joining Pedro Martinez (1999 at Fenway Park), Roger Clemens (1986) and Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski (1970).
“It’s been a nice little run,” Drew said. “We’ve still got a long ways to go, but this is definitely a good night.”