Drew aiming to get in Friday's lineup
Right fielder back in camp after receiving injection in lower back
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- For Red Sox right fielder J.D. Drew, the maintenance of his unpredictable back is something he needs to pay as close attention to as the nuances of his swing. And it's for that reason that Drew flew back to Boston and got an injection in his lower back on Monday. He was back in camp on Tuesday, but probably won't play again until Friday at the earliest.
Because of how delicate an issue Drew's back can be, the Red Sox wanted one of their own specialists -- Dr. Bill Palmer -- to be the one to give him the shot, hence the flight to Boston.
"I just think we kind of did it to, if we run into a problem later this year, maybe we know a little bit quicker [what to do]," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "[It's] kind of precautionary. We have some time right now, because it's so early in March. J.D., through getting looked at with some different people, thought this could be a benefit to him."
Drew's back was problematic from mid-August through the end of last season, not to mention at various other times in his career. When Drew reported to camp, he mentioned that the back still stiffened up at times during the offseason.
Perhaps the shot, Drew reasoned, will allow it to loosen up a little easier.
"[I've] been working with a chiropractor and started talking about some of the underlying issues, and thinking that the facets might be a little bound up," Drew said in an interview with NESN before leaving City of Palms Park on Tuesday. "So [after] talking with the training staff a little bit, [we] decided to do an injection in that area to see if that would free up some of the old scar tissue, an old injury, and give me some freer motion in that area."
Drew is encouraged by the way his back has reacted to the shot thus far.
"It was really encouraging," Drew said. "Usually after you get an injection like that -- because of the numbing medication -- if you feel relief right away, they've kind of got the right area. I felt really good getting up off the table. I was very encouraged by that and think, hopefully, this could be kind of a long-term benefit."
What kind of shot did Drew get?
"Just basically, it's called a 'facet block,' it has a little cortisone in it," Drew said. "[I] had an epidural last year a couple of times, and neither one of them really seemed to take good effect. [They] maybe helped a little bit, but not a whole lot. After talking with some folks and the chiropractor, they thought this one might help free me up a little bit."
The Red Sox know that Drew is never going to make a run at Cal Ripken's consecutive-game streak. But because of how vital Drew is to the lineup, the goal is to get 125 to 130 starts out of him.
Last year, Drew was limited to 109 games, but he was healthy enough to be a main cog in the lineup in the postseason.
The left-handed hitter is hoping to get back into Grapefruit League action on Friday, when the Red Sox host the Marlins at 1:05 p.m. ET.
"That's kind of the goal -- give it a good 72 hours to get in there and set up and kill some of the inflammation, and hopefully give me some extra motion in those joints and see how it goes," Drew said. "Like I said, if it doesn't work out, no harm, no foul. But it just really gives me an opportunity to see if that was the issue."
And one positive indication, at least from where the Red Sox stand, is how good Drew has looked at the plate this spring.
"He's actually doing real well," Francona said. "The day he left, he was hitting balls out on that street [beyond the right-field bleachers]. I just think we felt like it was a good time to do it. We weren't comfortable doing it down here, because [Palmer] is so good. There's a reason we want him to do these things. We just thought, again, we'd take advantage of the earliness of camp and try to get it done, and see if it's something that's there later in the year, if we need it."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.