Notes: Tito stands behind Drew
Sox manager understands power of confidence in game
CHICAGO -- Red Sox right fielder J.D. Drew certainly feels pressure from within to start producing the power expected of a man who is on the books for a total of $70 million over the next five seasons. However, one person who won't badger him is his manager.
Terry Francona, once a player with enormous potential, knows how hard hitting is. And he knows how fine the line is between producing and not producing.
"Obviously the more of a threat everybody is in our lineup, the better we are," Francona said. "Again, at the same time, because of my experience as a hitter, I think I may understand more ... sometimes you feel like this is what you can do. And it's not as easy as it looks."
"If you force it, you get worse," Francona said. "I could take any pitch you threw me and ground out to second with the best of them. They wanted me to start pulling the ball. 'No. 1 pick, come on man, you have to start generating some power.' I don't care where the second baseman was, I could hit it right at him. I don't want to do that to this guy. I understand our need for offense. But when you start telling guys, it doesn't help."
Earlier this season, Francona moved Drew to the leadoff spot and that jump-started him for a while. Of late, Drew, who has been Boston's No. 5 hitter most of the year, has been hitting sixth.
"First pitch in Tampa Bay [on Tuesday], he hits one 403 feet. If he hits it 406 feet [it's a homer and not an out]," Francona said. "It was a great swing. He didn't get rewarded. I think it's almost human nature to say, all of a sudden, 'OK, what do I have to do to get a hit?' This is a weird game and confidence plays such a big role in it that it's nice to get rewarded when you do hit one good. How many times do you see a guy go up there, and first swing, get a hit, and then everything falls into place."
For whatever reason, nothing has fallen into place for Drew in his first year in Boston. After going 0-for-3 in Game 1 of Friday's doubleheader, Drew is hitting .262 with six homers and 45 RBIs. Drew has been hitting for average of late. In his first 64 at-bats of August, he hit .344. Drew has not gone deep since June 20 at Atlanta.
He did have one home run taken away from him on July 20 when his drive cleared the Green Monster but the umpiring crew missed the call and ruled it a double. Last year with the Dodgers, Drew hit .283 with 20 homers and 100 RBIs.
Celebrating Oki in song: The popularity of Hideki Okajima reached new heights in the Red Sox clubhouse during Thursday night's lengthy rain delay as several members of the team danced to a bootleg song written in honor of the dominant rookie reliever.
It was a friend of Jeff Yamaguchi, Okajima's translator, who wrote the song.
"Mr. Yoshie. He makes music commercials in Japan," said Yamguchi. "He's a music producer. He came to Fenway in May. Went to a Red Sox game and he loved it. He said, 'Hey, I'm going to make an Okajima song."
Mr. Yoshie -- Yamaguchi wasn't certain of his first name -- lives in Tokyo. The Red Sox certainly had a good time with the song.
"The joint was jumping," said Terry Francona.
The name of the song is Okajima-Oki-doke. According to Yamaguchi, those are the only lyrics in the entire song.
"All it says is Okajima-Oki-doke, but it's so nice," said Yamaguchi. "The lyrics are upbeat."
Yamguchi said that David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis were just some of the players who danced to the song in the clubhouse. "The clubhouse went nuts last night," Yamaguchi said. "We played it like 30 times last night."
Count Mike Lowell as a fan.
"It's awesome," said Lowell. "Oh my God, it's the best. You have to hear it. We're going to play it at Fenway when we come home. It's outstanding. It's unbelievable."
High five for Lowell: One positive spinoff of Drew moving to the sixth spot in the lineup is that Lowell thoroughly enjoys hitting fifth, where he's now started 14 games this season.
"I love it," said Lowell. "I think my mind-set works good for that. Not that it doesn't at sixth, but I like it. I've been a five-hole hitter a lot in my career and hitting fourth for the Marlins is maybe a little bit of an overstatement because we didn't have the big boppers. I think my production, my power, my mind-set, is more geared toward hitting fifth or sixth. You're hitting right after Manny [Ramirez] or David [Ortiz]. You're going to have opportunities."
Hinske, Pedroia return to action: Eric Hinske (right calf) and Dustin Pedroia (left elbow) both returned to the lineup two days after leaving Wednesday's game against Tampa Bay with injuries.
Hinske spotted Youkilis at first base in Game 1. Pedroia was back in the lineup for Game 2.
Double dippers: Julio Lugo, Ortiz, Ramirez, Lowell and Coco Crisp all started both ends of the doubleheader.
Kevin Cash spelled Varitek behind the plate for Game 2. Cora started Game 1 at second base. Bobby Kielty filled in for Drew in Game 2.
Milestone watch: As the Red Sox enter crunch time of their season, there are a couple of individual milestones within reach for a couple of the most accomplished players on the team.
Ramirez is 11 home runs away from No. 500. Ramirez last went deep on Aug. 5 in Seattle. Reliever Mike Timlin is just two appearances away 1,000 for his career. Timlin ranks 13th all-time.
Coming up: Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (15-10, 4.35 ERA) takes the ball for Saturday's 3:55 p.m. ET contest, which will be nationally televised on FOX. The White Sox counter with left-hander Mark Buehrle (9-8, 3.42).
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.