Drew snares All-Star MVP honors
Red Sox's right fielder goes 2-for-4 in 15-inning affair in Bronx
NEW YORK -- Flags fly forever, and rings soothe all sorts of wounds. Now, add a nice trophy and a free SUV, and J.D. Drew has just about forgotten the first five months of his American League career.
Drew homered, reached base four times and made a catch at the wall en route to winning the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award, presented by Chevrolet, following the AL's 4-3, 15-inning victory over the National League in Tuesday's All-Star Game. It was just another step in a career resurgence that dates back to last September.
After finally winning over the fans in Boston, Drew even earned plaudits from Yankee fans with his performance on Tuesday, which started with a game-tying two-run homer off Edinson Volquez in the seventh inning.
"It was brief, to say the least," Drew said of the cheers from the New York crowd. "It was a little weird, and I heard about it when I got back out to right field, for sure. Then as the game went along, I think they forgot that I hit a home run and it picked up again."
With the AL trailing, 2-0, in the seventh, Volquez had just about wriggled out of a jam created by a leadoff double. But he left a 2-1 fastball over the plate, and Drew jumped it to even the score. Yankee Stadium celebrated, despite Drew's status as a member of the hated Red Sox.
Drew struck out in the ninth, but in the 11th, he singled to put runners on the corners with one out in a tie game. However, the AL was not able to convert on the chance, and the night ran on. Drew reached on an error in the 13th, but again a potential rally was snuffed out, and he tracked Nate McLouth's ball all the way to the wall in the 14th.
When Drew's walk helped keep the deciding 15th inning going for Michael Young's sacrifice fly, Drew became a less-than-obvious but still deserving MVP. He picked up a trophy and a Chevy Tahoe Hybrid for his efforts.
If the game had stretched on, Drew also might have found himself on the pitcher's mound. The Rays' Scott Kazmir had tossed 104 pitches on Sunday but found himself pitching in the 15th, so Red Sox manager Terry Francona was unsure how long the young lefty would last.
"[Drew] might have been a little more of an MVP if we went a couple more innings," said Francona. "He might have pitched. He's been begging me a long time to pitch, and we almost got close. But we were still a ways away from that."
Drew would have welcomed the opportunity.
"I've given him a hard time for the couple years that I played for him, if he ever runs out [of pitching], just give me a holler out here," said Drew. "We would have seen what happened. But after it started to [become a possibility], I was a little bit nervous to be honest with you."
The award continues a rush that Drew has been on since September of last year. Early in the final month of 2007, he was batting .252 and slugging .378 -- far from what the Red Sox expected when they signed him to a five-year deal. He was being booed consistently at home, never mind when the Red Sox visited the Bronx.
But Drew posted a .393 surge from Sept. 7 to the end of the year, and he enjoyed an excellent postseason. His grand slam in Game 6 of the AL Championship Series vs. the Indians was probably the biggest hit of the year for the Red Sox, and when Drew helped propel Boston to a World Series title, much of the ill will at home was erased.
Follow that up with an outstanding 2008, and things are suddenly very sunny for Drew. And September 2007 seems like a long time ago.
"I don't think it's hard to believe," Drew said. "I've always had confidence in my ability. It just took me a little while to put it together last year, get some experience in the American League. I felt like I had a really nice September, took it into the playoffs, and I just wanted to bring it to this season. It's been a nice little run."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.