No matter how difficult Jose Iglesias made the decision, Red Sox manager John Farrell knew that once Stephen Drew was ready to return, the shortstop job would be his.
After being drilled in the head by a fastball in spring training and left with a concussion, Drew was feeling woozy and lethargic.
But it has been two weeks since he experienced any symptoms, and a week ago, he was cleared to play in games by Major League Baseball. He made his Red Sox debut in Wednesday night’s 8-5 loss to the Orioles, inserted into the eighth spot in the order, and he felt confident about stepping into the batter’s box again.
“It’s a good feeling to be back,” Drew said before the game. “It was kind of a long process, kind of didn’t know when I would be back.
“The symptoms are gone and I’m ready to get back after it. Good to be here.”
He returned to a team that went 5-2 with Iglesias serving as a more-than-adequate fill-in, going 9 for his first 20 at the plate. “He did a great job,” Drew said.
Farrell took notice as well, but said his intentions were always to insert Drew once he was healthy. He met with Iglesias Tuesday to inform him that he would be optioned to Triple A Pawtucket.
“He took it very professionally,” Farrell said. “I’m sure there was some disappointment, but he did everything that we could have hoped and he played exceptionally well.
“So he goes back to Pawtucket, I’m sure, with an increased level of confidence. Probably in his mind, he’s a major league player.”
Third baseman Will Middlebrooks said he spoke with Iglesias Wednesday morning.
“I thought he handled it great,” Middlebrooks said. “He was a pro. He’s been up and down a few times now. He knows how it goes. He knows he’ll be back.”
Until then, Farrell said, Iglesias’s job will be the same in Pawtucket as it was in Boston.
“To go about his work every day the same way he did here,” Farrell said. “That’s that only thing that he can really control.
“The sooner he can maybe get past any frustration that might be in there, the better. And I’m not saying that he’s shown any negativity towards what took place.
“I can fully understand a player’s feelings when he performs so well and then he gets sent out, but while at Pawtucket, he just needs to maintain the very consistent work ethic that he showed here.”
Ortiz a week away?
While an exact return date is still uncertain, David Ortiz’s rehab assignment from a strained Achilles’ tendon will move to Pawtucket Thursday, where the intent is to give him 20-30 at-bats, according to Farrell. The Red Sox are eyeing next week as a possible return for the slugger.
When asked if Ortiz would be ready by Tuesday for a series against the Indians, Farrell said he was hopeful. And when asked if the Royals series, which starts next Friday, was feasible, general manager Ben Cherington said the same.
“We hope so,” Cherington said. “We hope at some point during that week or later on that week. We’ll talk to him each day after he plays and see how he’s feeling.
“He knows his swing, and at this point, that’s what it’s about. It’s about at-bats and timing and feeling good at the plate. And he knows how he feels better than anyone else does. So we’ll read off him.”
Lackey put on DL
Taking a cautious approach early in the season, the Sox placed John Lackey on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 7, with a right biceps strain.
“We feel pretty good about it, he feels pretty good about it,” said Cherington. “This early in the season, we just felt like rather than try to rush to get him back within a 10- or 12-day period, it was better to get it right, let him go through a progression, get back up on the mound, face some hitters.
“Once we started looking at the schedule, it just didn’t make sense to rush and avoid the DL, so we used the DL.”
Wanting to go with a righthander at home against the Orioles, Farrell will start Alfredo Aceves Thursday.
“Alfredo has had some good performance numbers against some individuals in their lineup,” said Farrell, “particularly [Matt] Wieters. Keeping him from the left side of the plate was one of the factors in that.”
Franklin Morales (back) began pitching in Fort Myers Tuesday, Cherington said, and his innings will be bumped up each outing.
“Hopefully, he’s another option for us as we get towards the end of April,” said the GM.
Jerry Remy, the popular longtime Red Sox television analyst and former second baseman, announced during a recorded interview on NESN Wednesday night that he recently had been treated for a relapse of lung cancer. Continued...