Buried in Nick Cafardo’s excellent Sunday notes column on the Boston Globe‘s website is this bit of troubling news for Red Sox fans: J.D. Drew has been experiencing discomfort in his hamstring this offseason and is likely to be limited when spring training opens later this month.
Drew battled hamstring problems throughout much of the 2010 season. He didn’t hit the disabled list once, but that seems likely to change this year if he is already having struggles here in early February.
The good news is that the Red Sox have enough depth to handle the two- or three-week stints when he goes down. Ryan Kalish is a well-rounded player and just about ready to become a big league regular. Mike Cameron and Darnell McDonald are both quality backups, too.
Boston is used to Drew’s nagging injuries. He started only 127 games in 2010, 124 in 2009 and 105 in 2008. That he’s already having problems is unfortunate, but the Sox are prepared.
Drew, 35, is entering the final season of a five-year, $72 million contract that he signed in December of 2006. He has spoken a few times about retiring when the 2011 season concludes.
The Blue Jays have shut down left fielder Steve Pearce for the remainder of the season following a lingering case of lower back stiffness. Pearce has not appeared in a game since September 8, when he was forced to exit in the first inning after experiencing back pain during his at-bat. Per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, he’s scheduled to return to Florida next week, where he’ll receive epidural injections to address the pain.
Pearce, 34, impressed in his first season with Toronto. He battled through a calf injury during the first half of the season and finished the year with a modest .252/.319/.438 batting line, 13 home runs and a .757 OPS through 348 PA. By September, the Blue Jays started testing the waters with outfield prospect Teoscar Hernandez, who shouldered the bulk of the starts in left field after Pearce was sidelined with back issues.
With the Blue Jays all but eliminated from playoff contention, however, there’s no rush to get Pearce back to the outfield. He should be in fine shape to compete for another starting role in spring, and could face stiff competition from Hernandez if the rookie continues building on his .278 average and three home runs this month. The veteran outfielder is slated to receive the remaining $6.25 million on his contract in 2018 and will be eligible for free agency in 2019.
Brewers’ minor league infielder Julio Mendez remains in “critical but stable condition,” club GM David Stearns announced Friday. Back in August, Mendez suffered a cardiac event after he was inadvertently struck by a ball from the Angels’ Austin Krzeminksi during a game between the rookie-level affiliates. The 20-year-old was removed to a Phoenix-area hospital for treatment following the incident and has recently been transferred to a hospital in his native Venezuela.
Mendez was in his fourth season with the Brewers’ organization. He spent the majority of his 2017 run with the rookie-level AZL Brewers, slashing .255/.294/.355 with 10 extra-base hits, 16 RBI and four stolen bases over 119 plate appearances. He currently holds a career .241/.324/.309 batting line, 33 extra bases and a .633 OPS through 668 PA.
Baseball is still on the back burner, however, as Mendez appears to have made little progress nearly a month following the hit by pitch. Thoughts go out to his family during this difficult time.